How many internships should you do during college? It’s a question posed by many. For some, one is enough, as long as it’s a good one. Others say students should aim for one internship each summer.
For recent graduate Angela Zhou, the answer was simple: As many as it took to figure out what she wanted to do. In her case, during four years of college, she did 11.
Eleven internships. Why so many? She was looking for the right job, of course.
FOUR YEARS AT THREE SCHOOLS ON THREE CONTINENTS
Zhou’s search for the right internship, and consequently the right field for her career, is related to where she got her undergraduate degree. As part of the World Bachelor in Business program, she spent her four years in college at the University of Southern California, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and Bocconi University in Italy. She graduated with her BBA in May.
“Originally, my dream school was Georgetown, and I wanted to study foreign policy. I never planned on studying business,” Zhou says. “I thought maybe I would get an MBA someday, but I didn’t think I would major in business for undergrad.”
She chose the World Bachelor in Business for the international factor, and because she hoped to be able to pursue some of her other interests via internships, for which she started applying as soon as she started school.
SHE ALWAYS WANTED TO LEAVE HOME FOR COLLEGE
Zhou grew up in Southern California, but she always thought she would leave home and go to college on the East Coast. USC wasn’t really on her radar until she found out about the World Bachelor in Business program, which was brand new when she applied.
Around 45 students from around the world are accepted each year. They all spend the first year at USC, the second year in Hong Kong, the third year in Italy, and the fourth at the university of their choice. Zhou, like most of her classmates, chose to return to USC for her fourth year.
“It has been an amazing experience, and I’ve been fortunate to study and work in three different economic zones across America, Asia, and Europe,” Zhou says. “I feel much more well-versed about politics around the world, and I feel like the program has allowed me to get intimate details about other cultures.”
WHY SO MANY INTERNSHIPS?
But Zhou wasn’t completely sure about business. “Everyone else in the program was really pressured to go into consulting, or things like that,” she says, “and I wanted something different.”
But what, exactly? She wasn’t sure. So she decided to figure things out through internships.
At first, Zhou wanted to explore writing. During her first two years of college she landed marketing internships at Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, and Lucky magazines.
“It was sort of a childhood dream of mine, to combine writing with my interest in fashion,” she says. But as things turned out, magazine work wasn’t the right fit. She wanted something a bit more stable, so she explored content, branding, and consumer behavior at Target.
But there, too, Zhou thought she might find a better fit elsewhere. “So I tried finding companies that had commitments to social issues that I was passionate about,” she says.
In Italy for her third year of college, she interned with Microsoft and helped host a conference for the company’s Pink Cloud Initiative, where women in and around Italy could participate in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) classes. For her fourth and final year of college, Zhou returned to the U.S. and completed three more internships: as a business development intern for IBM, as a digital organizing fellow for Hillary for America, and as a project management intern at Johnson & Johnson.
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