When I was 8, I wanted to be a hairdresser – no, I’m not kidding. Both my parents are in the beauty industry, and I grew up hanging out at their salons after school and on the weekends. I helped the assistants fold towels, hang capes, and sweep up cut hair on the floor (and I got an allowance for it – making the big bucks, people). Obviously, this is not the path I stayed on throughout the years, but looking back on it now, I feel like I must’ve been ahead of the curve: an internship at 8 years old. How mature of me.
But in all seriousness, that was an important experience for me. When I started college, all I really knew was what I wanted to study (which, in retrospect, is a lot more than most people coming into their freshman year). I had no idea what I wanted to be. Sure, if I could come out of college a famous artist, selling my paintings for two thousand bucks a pop – well, you could say I’d be happy with that. Alas, it didn’t work out as such. Thankfully, I was a little bit of a fortune-teller and knew it wouldn’t either, so here’s what I tried:
After my sophomore year, I thought I would test out my artistic abilities and see if they’d transfer over to graphic design. So, I found out about this cool advertising agency near my house. I shadowed an Account Executive while learning about Illustrator and Photoshop throughout the summer. Full disclosure: I stink at graphic design. But, this story comes full circle; just you wait.
I had picked up a Persian Studies minor in the meantime, so after my junior year, I thought I was a sure fit for government work. I interned at a contractor’s office, learning open source analysis. In other words: I read a lot of news. And though this wasn’t the colossal failure that graphic design ended up being, it turns out it is really hard to get a job in the government – who knew? On to the next one…
In my senior year, I decided to give the art world one more shot – I took an opportunity to work at a local gallery near campus. I held gallery hours. I organized and curated a show for students. It was a great experience, but seeing the business side of fine art made it, well, kind of dull for me. So, that was that.
And then, the job applications began. After countless non-responses, and two months of temp work, I realized: I am going to be so bored in an office. To be honest, I was happy some things didn’t pan out. I looked back at all my interning experiences, my temp work, and tried to cull through the advice every recently graduated 20-something is bombarded with from their family and friends. And then, it hit me: Maybe I wasn’t quite the best at graphic design, but I really liked that one place I worked – hey, maybe I should look them up again and see if there’s something else…
HZ was my perfect balance of the creative atmosphere I love, the fast-paced and definitely-not-vanilla workplace I needed – it was comfortable and challenging all in one. Here I am over two years later, and still loving it. Most people my age can’t say that. And for that, I’m grateful.
Interning is an experiment. You test and learn. I’m not sure where I’d be if I hadn’t interned and ended up at HZ, but I’m sure I wouldn’t be as contented as I am right now.