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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Opinion: An ode to unconventional internships

Unconventional+Scholarship
Graphic by Pranay Dhoopar
Unconventional Scholarship

There’s a natural stress that comes with looking for internships — and for what? To become the copy-machine runner? You want to learn marketing, media or coding, but there’s a chance you’ll just learn your boss’ coffee order.
As a freshman, I couldn’t even get that. I was buried in rejection emails, knowing most employers wouldn’t take my year of college as solid experience. Before I knew it, I was a journalism major who accepted a job at a barn, learning and teaching horsemanship to elementary age kids.
Was I a natural-born cowgirl in love with horses? Nope. In fact, I saw no appeal in horses at all. What I saw were foreign skills I could attempt to master as a summer project.
Conventional wisdom would tell you to look for internships in your major, but realistically, most ‘serious’ office internships are geared towards upperclassmen or recent graduates. Some would even view an internship outside your field as leaving a hole in your resume, but through my unconventional experience, I learned valuable skills by trying something new.
“Tell me about a time you took initiative.”
On the first day in the barn with no horse experience, I managed to mount myself on a horse simply by observing what everyone else was doing. I never thought of it as an act of bravery, even though my hands were clearly shaking as I brought myself up.
I realized this was the case though, when our barn manager asked “Wait … is this anyone’s first time on a horse?”
“Tell me about a time you dealt with something challenging.”
When you’re 5-foot-4 staring up a horse’s barrel and investing in leather boots for the first time, you know you didn’t sign up for boring. In any case, a unique, fortifying internship will show you what it’s like to learn from others outside of your own world.
Instead of spending my summer doing dignified office work, I was working in a barn, horse sweat and hair sticking to my arms, learning a whole new set of work values.
Lessons ranged from dedication to patience as I began accepting inconveniences with a positive attitude, even smelly inconveniences.
“Tell me about a time you acted as a leader.”
From disciplining these horses, I gained a new perspective on what it meant to lead and develop compassion. It meant constant repetition when a horse was hesitant to stop and realizing I was capable of confidently controlling a massive animal.
Though horses were stubborn at times, it was my responsibility to train them and build up a relationship of trust. This is similar to standard office leadership, except with tall, easily frightened, 1,000 pound horses named Elderberry and Whopper.
When introducing horse riding to kids, they either tried to recklessly claw their way up a horse’s mane or shield their teary eyes from the sight of a scary animal. Working with them meant working on effective, simple communication and leading through assurance.
The best thing about pursuing the unconventional are challenges that yield fortitude and optimism. Aggies know these all too well: teamwork and the satisfaction of having been uncomfortable, but having survived only to leave with unshakable, marketable traits.
Working through an unconventional experience not only broadens your scope of skills, but it reinforces ones you might not have touched on in a traditional internship, yet are practical.
I might’ve never connected filling feed troughs at 5 a.m. to being able to avoid the snooze button enough to break morning news.
In essence, if endless “Sales Associate” titles bore you as a business major, it’s okay.
By connecting your interests with real experience, a job description on a resume can depict you as someone well-versed beyond your major.
Through unconventional internships, an engineer has the opportunity to stand out through creative writing or an English major can showcase their persuasive skills through marketing.
Now, when an interviewer asks me about a time I dealt with problem-solving or overcame a challenge, I have endless answers.
Valerie Muñoz is a journalism junior and opinion writer for The Battalion.

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