It’s getting to be that time of year where it stays light out past 5:00 PM, and as a Midwesterner that’s close enough to summer for me to start reminiscing about summers passed. Sure there are bonfires, road trips, and maybe a trip or two to the beach, but summer is also a great time for professional development. At my internship last summer, I got the best of both worlds working as a media coordinator for an overnight summer camp.
It’s not the traditional marketing internship, but I’ve always loved working with children, and I wanted to do something out of my comfort zone. Little did I know just how out of my league I was. I worked harder than I ever have and learned so much about myself professionally and personally. While my days may have seemingly been filled with “fun and games”, it came with a lot of hard work and I gained so much professionally that I will take back with me to any business environment. If you think you’re willing to trade your blazer for a tie dye t shirt for the summer, here are 7 things you might gain.
You will learn so much flexibility and be a significantly more adaptable person.
At camp, there are so many activities going on in any given day. When you throw in weather and 200 girls all under the age of 15, changes to plans are bound to pop up. My job was taking photos and running social media, but I also stepped in often to lead activities, clean up messes, and take kids to the nurse. You have to be ready to step up when someone needs help, even if that means changing your plans.
You learn more empathy for others.
In business you constantly work with others and oftentimes have to be sensitive to the needs of clients and other team members. At camp, you may spend 12+ hours a day with your co workers or “clients”/campers. You get to know those around you really well, and become in tune with their emotions and care about their well being. Most everyone I worked with at camp was incredibly supportive and kind, which really helped me be successful in hard times. At camp, you learn to help people in that same way.
You get good at creative problem solving on the fly.
Like I alluded to earlier, things don’t always go as planned at camp. It just happens. It rains, or its 90 degrees, or you run out of paint in arts and crafts, or you’re short staffed. Problems big and small pop up all the time, and you have to solve them quickly and creatively so your campers can have a good time.
You will strengthen your work ethic, like a lot.
Camp can be a physically demanding job, even if you’re just taking photos. You’re very active, whether it’s playing kickball or teaching swimming lessons, or even just walking all over camp trying to capture the perfect shot. You work hard and you give your all everyday, and not just physically. I learned how to commit to a day of hard work and crush it, and I’ve noticed I feel capable of so much more after that experience, even in my school work.
You can get leadership experience at a very young age.
It’s not uncommon there for a 20 year old to have staff to manage at camp. Whether it’s formal leadership like a directors position, or informal leadership like leading activities, everyone is a leader a camp in some way. If you demonstrate drive and potential, people catch on quick in this environment.
You learn the value of company culture and fun in the workplace.
Fun plays a huge role at camp. It’s all about creating an experience. You work closely with your team and your co workers, and if the culture isn’t right and you’re not having fun, the work is so much harder. It truly is important to be able to have fun and work and enjoy the culture in the “office”, which is something that can be easily overlooked in a job search. Camp teaches you to look out for that and ask about it in interviews.
You learn to say yes and not to fear failure.
A big part of what makes camp fun is that you get to trust crazy ideas, like a paint war or silly dress up days or something called “egg roulette” (which ended up with me having a raw egg cracked on my head). You never know what’s going to be fun, and you never know how an idea might evolve. You just learn to say yes. Camp was an extremely supportive environment for me, and that really helped me feel comfortable taking on things that scared me.
If you’re looking for a job this summer, I hope this gives you something to consider. If you are in human resources and happen to be looking at resumes and see “Camp Counselor” listed, I hope this gives you something to consider, too. Camp is one of my favorite summer internships I’ve ever had, and because of it, I feel prepared to take on challenges in the business world. I’m so thankful I got to live the camp life, even if it was just for one summer, and I recommend it to any business student looked to do something out of the ordinary.