My name is Kim.

I’m one of the interns working at The Gabriel Institute and this is my last summer before I have to “go big, or go home,” and the last thing I want to do is go home.

Don’t get me wrong, my parents are lovely, and there is something wonderfully comfortable about a place you grew up in for 20 years. However, I come from a small town in Upstate New York, with an even smaller economy. (Not to mention I am also 21 and no longer am amused by the “what time are you going to be home” question.)

From high school well into my college years, finding a summer job was never a problem. All the restaurants were seasonal, and loved if you were only looking to work May through August. But those are restaurant jobs, and I decided to go to school for Communications and Journalism, not restaurant management.

One of my good friends (who lives in Philadelphia) was listening to me whine one day about not wanting to work in a restaurant all summer: how it wouldn’t get me ahead for graduation next year; how my internship in Washington D.C. fell through; how there was no one hiring interns back home, and an entire list of other things I was dreading about the summer. His only response was “Come live with me in Philly.”

Within days I decided to do it; to turn into a grownup and move out. I packed my bags and drove five hours with nothing but determination to make it the most fun and productive summer ever. It was my time to “go big.”

When I moved down here two months ago I had nothing. I knew a handful of people. I was sharing a room with my friend, and barely had a dresser-sized space in the closet in which to put all of my belongings.

I was unhappy with my money situation, my professional inexperience, and my living quarters. So I did something about it.

My determination for a job or internship was first on my to-do list. I put a few applications in at some restaurants, figuring it would be a very good plan B. I then signed up with an internship search website (www.internships.com) and within days had an interview for The Gabriel Institute in center city.

Two of the restaurants called me back for interviews, one of which I accepted.

I took some down time from job searching (praying both interviews would follow through) to see an old friend from my freshman year of college. She mentioned that one of her roommates just moved out and they were looking for someone to fill the spot to keep rent down. Bingo! A week and a half in Philly and things were going my way.

So now, two months later, I live with three people, two of whom are strangers, and one who is a gross slob, but I have my own space for when I need it. I didn’t originally want to work in another restaurant, but I have made a ton of new friends that I hang out with on a regular basis, and it’s great money. My internship is unpaid, but I enjoy the work and it’s giving me something wonderful to put on my resume, and I like it.

So in hindsight I’d say I did pretty well.

The point is folks; there are always ups and downs. You can never have EVERYTHING that you want, and you can never be completely satisfied with everything in your life. The difference between people who succeed in this world and those who don’t can be as simple as reorganizing and changing your situation until the only “bad” things are the little things.

Make your “big picture” one that you can stand to look at every day.

“To the east side?” you ask.  No, through the corporate ranks.  The Gabriel Institute’s very own Paul Sevcik was recently asked to write about his transition from intern to Client Services Manager for the Eye of the Intern blog, and here’s what he had to say:

Making the move from intern to full-time employee

I was in the last semester of my MBA program and all indicators were bad.  The job market was down and paid positions were scarce as recently laid-off seasoned professionals joined the merry-go-round looking for work. At a networking event, I learned about an unadvertised internship at a company located in the same building where I took to my graduate courses. I chatted up the CEO of the company and was invited to apply for the internship.

This particular company had a unique way for potential interns to start the application process.  Submit a resume?  “No, thank you,” they said.  Call some references?  “Nope, we don’t do that,” they said, “just go to our website.”  Oh boy.  I had heard that story a thousand times!

Although skeptical, I went to their website and applied by taking their Role-Based Assessment, which actually turned out to be fun. When I clicked submit, I received the typical: “We’ll be in touch.”  I followed up by sending an email to the CEO of the company.  The next day, I received an invitation to interview with them.

The interview was like any other with typical questions about my skills and experience, but a new dimension was added when they actually gave me my assessment results. This was a surprise because I had received my results at an interview before. I read over the report and thought, “Wow, this company really gets me!  Before they even brought me in today, they knew how I could contribute to their team.  Wait a minute–they brought me in because they already know I will be a positive contributor to their company!”  The interview discussion was very productive and within a week, I was working at The Gabriel Institute doing work that I really enjoyed.

I worked at The Gabriel Institute for three months and sampled work in Sales, Human Resources, and Operations.  I had expressed interest in these areas during my interview and my supervisor made sure to balance the type of work I did. In the process, I worked with every person in the organization, which was a small startup company with a heavy entrepreneurial focus.

As my third month came to a close, I received and accepted an offer for full-time work at another company. The experience at the new company, however, was so negatively different from the supportive and productive environment at The Gabriel Institute that I terminated employment at the new company on my 90th day.

So there I was without a job or internship and no sign of the economy improving anytime soon.  What was I going to do?

I asked the CEO of The Gabriel Institute, the company where I had done my internship, out to breakfast and the next morning we sat down to talk about my future with the company. My internship was reignited with a bend toward temp-to-hire work. Three months later, I transitioned from a temp to a full-time employee and now, I’m the Client Services Manager.  Part of my job is to oversee the internship program. Today, the program is formalized and the positions are advertised at local universities, several online internship sites, and on the company’s website. The process for becoming an intern still starts at the website and we only bring in interns if we know their assessment results fit with our needs. The assessment works like a charm and I am proof it’s possible to go from intern to full-time employee at a small company that’s willing to take the risk during turbulent times.

The original blog posting can be found here.