The Power of an Internship Early in Your Career
by Alexandra Hanscom, My Next Season Intern & Charlotte Fellow
Choosing to change courses slightly and pursue an internship after graduating college has proven to be very beneficial during this transitional period of my life. I graduated from Christopher Newport University this past May with a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts, concentration Studio Art. Throughout the majority of my time at CNU I was on track to become an art teacher; I was even accepted into the Master’s program in teaching at CNU my junior year. However, after much consideration, I decided to step back and consider all of my options versus going straight into graduate school.
I knew I didn’t want to just take time off; I wanted to be intentional and productive while discerning what I would do next. So I headed to Charlotte in September to begin the Charlotte Fellows Program, a nine-month fellowship for recent college graduates that combines work experience, classes, and individual and group coaching.
For the work placement element of the Fellows Program, I was hired to intern for My Next Season. The mission of My Next Season is to help companies and individuals with important career transitions and ensure they happen well—and I quickly began to see the impact My Next Season was making in the lives of their clients and their families. The company’s clients are either executives transitioning into retirement or young professionals seeking early career advising—and here I was, a young professional exploring possibility about my future! How fitting that I would find myself benefiting not only from real work experience at My Next Season, but perhaps even more so from the nature of the work itself.
My Next Season has a workbook for clients that includes many powerful stories about people who have gone through career transitions—and I was encouraged to go through the workbook as part of my work with the company. I recall one story, authored by a former client Mike S., that was particularly impactful for me. Mike spoke about being guided by faith in the midst of transition and uncertainty. It was so helpful for me to visualize a highly accomplished professional wrestle with questions and uncertainty about career, while maintaining faith and furthering a pursuit of purpose. This gave me such a hopeful perspective in this season of my life as I ponder opportunities I might pursue. It affirmed I could do so without compromising my faith—and with a goal of further refining my calling and purpose.
I have also found My Next Season’s early career advising material to be very useful as I prepare to make my next career move. The My Next Season Early Career Advising Workbook is a wonderful tool that has helped me understand my strengths, abilities, aspects about jobs that I like/dislike, and what motivates me in my work. After completing the workbook, I learned that I am highly motivated by making an impact and serving others. I also learned that I really enjoy working for a smaller company because I value the quality of people I work with. I believe it is important to surround yourself with people you aspire to be like, which is why I feel so grateful to work alongside the My Next Season team. It is evident that the team members care for people deeply and work selflessly to improve the lives of others.
Not surprisingly, then, one of my favorite things about the job so far has been getting to know the people I work with. We recently had our team retreat where I had the privilege of meeting with the company’s co-founders Leslie Braksick and Mark Linsz, and the rest of the My Next Season team. I walked away with a few valuable lessons from this retreat that I will carry with me through my professional life, the most impactful of which was what Mark calls “business etiquette,” an especially important aspect of networking. I’ve learned that networking can be as simple as following up with people after meeting with them—or saying thank you. He helped me see how many little things we can do that can make a lasting impact. Now I am well on my way to making more connections and strengthening my professional network.
As I reflect on my internship experience so far, I’m grateful to have the opportunity to glean wisdom from the co-founders, advisors, and methodology here at My Next Season as I lean into the value of this transitional period in my life and determining what’s next. More to come . . . but glad to be well on my way!