I recall the stress and anticipation as classmates applied for internships in the New York City area during our junior year, and how professors and advisors repeatedly emphasized the importance of interning before graduation. The word around campus was that a crummy-paying internship could almost guarantee a comfortably-paying position with that same company immediately following graduation.
I, however, had no idea of exactly what I wanted to do after college, so I decided it would be best (translate: easiest) to soak up some rays on the Jersey shore and work in the filing room of a law firm to earn excess cash. After all, being financially secure enough to fund essential expenses like Spring Break and the Senior Ball certainly outweighed the importance of building up my resume.
I admit that I often questioned my decision during my senior year as I watched my roommates getting dressed in business attire for their fall internships, but I convinced myself that internships were unnecessary. I assured myself that I would have no problem landing a job after graduation. And, even though I did eventually get hired about five months after graduating, finding my first job was not easy and I endured a few "bumps" in the career path that led me to where I am today. I still sometimes wonder: Would things have been different with an internship under my belt? Would it have earned me a few extra bullets on my resume or given me more direction in my career?
I recently reflected on my decision of not interning once again after meeting Casey Perkal. Casey, a junior at George Washington University majoring in international business, was hired as a summer intern in MLB's Diversity and Strategic Alliances Department. Casey chose a different path than I and explored the possibilities of what an internship has to offer when he accepted the position with MLB. I had the privilege of working with Casey this summer and had the opportunity to witness firsthand how much he gained from his internship experience. I talked to him after his time at MLB ended a few weeks ago and learned more about what I failed to embark on so many years ago.
I began the interview asking Casey how he began the whole internship process, and particularly, how he heard about the opportunity at MLB.
"I heard about MLB's internship program through my University's job-posting networking website [GWork]," he explained. "Thousands of jobs are posted on this Web site designed for students seeking full-time or part-time positions. After seeing the listing for MLB, I submitted my resume and cover letter and was contacted to come into the office for an interview."
Shortly after his interview, Casey was called with the good news of being selected to intern. He was thrilled. He revealed that, although he did apply for a few other internships and had the option of returning to the same company where he had worked in previous summers, he felt that working at MLB would not only be the most exciting opportunity, but it would also be the most beneficial for him in terms of pursuing a career in the sports industry.
While Casey interned in MLB's Diversity and Strategic Alliances Division, he undertook several projects.
"I worked on a wide range of projects, filling in wherever my department needed me," he said. "I conducted market research, helping to find information about local minority/women-owned businesses in Arizona, Chicago and other locations. I also helped to prepare presentations for many of the department's various meetings, including creating PowerPoint presentations and Excel spreadsheets. My favorite project involved writing for the Diverse Business Partners Web site. I had the opportunity to interview business owners and write an article about the impact of the All-Star Game on the city of St. Louis."
I was curious to see if Casey's experience this summer helped him learn anything more about his major, International Business.
"I did learn more about International Business," he said. "Hearing from the International Department during one of the intern panel discussions was very helpful. I learned about the World Baseball Classic and MLB's connection to professional leagues worldwide. Since MLB is continuing to grow, with an increasing number of fans worldwide, the International Division of baseball will become more and more important in the years to come.
"Additionally, I really enjoyed all of the guest speakers that came to present to the internship group, as well as the subsequent panel discussions. Having the chance to hear from people like Rob Manfred and Paul Archy was inspiring. Representatives from many of the departments spoke to the interns, and it really gave each of us the opportunity to hear firsthand what it would be like to work in their divisions."
Despite the many projects he contributed to, Casey assured me that working at MLB was certainly not all business and no pleasure.
"Attending a Mets game with my fellow interns was a highlight of the summer,He said. "During a hot July day, the entire group of interns went to Citi Field to see the Mets play the Rockies. While I would rather have seen my beloved Yankees destroy the inferior competition, I was quite pleased to spend a work-day at the park, eating some delicious Danny Meyer food."
Although Casey and I chose different paths to start our respective careers, it is clear that he learned a great deal at MLB and walks away with a much more enriching experience than I did filing in a law firm so many years ago.
Following his internship, Casey plans to study in Istanbul, Turkey, next semester, where he will continue his studies of International Business, and then finish his education at George Washington University. After graduating, he plans to attend law school and pursue a career in sports, with a likely focus on marketing. Whatever his final destination, I am certain that Casey's internship experience armed him with some essential tools for a successful future.