Tim Donovan Unpaid Internship Case Study

Before choosing an internship, it is important to ask questions and be aware of what duties are to be expected of you, while also understanding the specific nature of the work.  Former intern Tim Donovan, who completed a summer internship for The First Tennessee Bank in 2003, urges those seeking an internship of the importance in gaining a broader perspective upon agreeing to the various tasks undertaken with intern work.  After being referred by a classmate who had previously completed the same internship, Donovan began interning at the 9th largest bank in the country with hopes to improve his resume before starting his senior year of college.

The experience was not as Donovan had expected.  Instead of being actively involved, the work left him feeling like an “outsourced admin” after completing the initial training and being placed at customer service to help with checking accounts and the like.  Donovan’s learning expectations had not been met, though this unpaid internship did provide him with a useful recommendation.

Although Donavon’s internship had not been ideal, he had obtained the necessary experience to build a perspective on the nature of what type of work he preferred.  His advice for those seeking an internship is “do more homework.”  That is to say, don’t go on just a classmate’s suggestion alone.  It is as important for the interviewer to understand you, as it is for you to understand the characteristics of the internship.  Asking questions during the interview is vital, because it allows you to compare your personal expectations to that of the business wherever you chose to intern.

In reality, making the most of an internship is up to not only the company, but the intern, as well.  Donavon suggests, had he kept a journal or recorded the processes involved in his intern work, he would have taken more from the experience.  Given the chance to go back and change direction with the knowledge he has now, Donavon explained he would have preferred working for a smaller company or entrepreneurial type business where he would have access to the people who make decisions.

Rather than obtaining an internship for the sake of having a job, the experience gained from an internship is the key to confidence in professional endeavors, because the tasks can be shaped to enrich a wide range of skills which are highly sought in the professional sphere.  For someone like Donavon who used to buy stocks as a kid and always dreamed of owning his own business, the experience of choosing a more suitable internship could have very well provided him with the necessary skills to start up his own business by working directly alongside successful business owners.

All things considered, Donavon advises to “keep your eyes open” and align your internship with something you want to do that will help you reach your goal.  Identify your dream job, and go get it.

Tim is an entrepreneur and owns his own business.  He resides in Hollywood, CA.

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