How Has Your First Internship Prepared You For Your Current Role?
On Thanksgiving 2018, I received a text from a great friend of mine (I've know him since middle school and high school basketball), asking me about my first internship with the Detroit Pistons and how it's helped me in my current role as a business owner, entrepreneur and strategist.
He's a super hard worker, and a very intelligent and thoughtful person, so I was pumped to receive this...
You see, anyone who knows me well knows how freaking proud I am of my time with the Detroit Pistons Organization from 2001-2007. To me, it was like a second childhood, full of fun experiences, challenges, and unrivaled intensity on a minute-by-minute basis.
It's even funny that he uses "Curious" as the first word after my name, because that's all I was was "Curious" during my time there. I constantly wanted to know what was next, do it, and get really good at it.
But in thinking about how to answer his question, I became too wrapped up in how awesome my internship (which turned into a full-time job after college graduation) was. I kept wanting to tell him all about the overall experience with the Detroit Pistons Organization.
I started in 2001 as an unpaid intern. I drove an hour and a half 3-5 times per week from Michigan State University (during my junior and senior years), in East Lansing, Michigan, to The Palace of Auburn Hills, close to my parents home in Rochester.
Right there, I had the sense that I was doing much more work towards my future career than most of my peers. Right or wrong (and probably wrong), I still felt that way. No lack of confidence here. 🙂
In 2002 (as a senior at MSU), I was offered a full-time job by the Detroit Fury Area Football Team (owned by the Pistons at the time) to leave school early (yep, like Kevin Garnett - haha - LeBron for those younger than I, and Moses Malone for those older than me) and become their Director of Media Relations.
Kevin Grigg, my boss at the time and still to this day the VP of Public Relations for the Detroit Pistons, advised against it, saying I'd get "stuck in Arena Football." Probably decent advice for the time, considering I wouldn't have even graduated college when I was only a year away.
So I "waited" until the day after graduation (lol) to join full time with the Pistons and WNBA Detroit Shock as their Media Relations Assistant. I then had 3-4 more positions there in the next 5 years, including Public Relations, Community Relations, Marketing, Branding and Digital.
But wait, back to my friend's text. He didn't ask if I LIKED my internship. He asked HOW IT IS ASSISTING ME NOW IN MY CURRENT BUSINESS.
Yeah, that's right. I have a current business. In all of my nostalgia, I had almost forgotten. Funny how that works sometimes.
So, after much thought, here's how I replied.
He then replied with a pretty cool thing.
The part about "looking forward it's tough to connect the dots."
Yep. Very true. At the time, I legitimately thought I'd be there my whole life. I thought I'd be CEO of the Pistons one day. I freaking LOVED that place.
But things change, and they change fast. I fell in love with creating and building websites. And blogging. Yep, right there in Auburn Hills. On game nights, there would be a lull between "close of normal business," call it 5:30 p.m. and when we'd have to start preparing for 7:30 p.m. tip-off.
There would be about an hour or so of "down time."
During the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons, I spent all 41 regular season home games (those on the weekends I'd have more down time) + however many preseason and playoff games we had, using that hour building websites in HTML and writing blogs for them.
Funny that it would STILL take me another 10 years, literally, before I started my own business doing JUST THAT.
Hey Paris, thanks for the text. Not sure WHY you were curious, but thankful that you were and happy you reached out.
Love you man.
Thanks for reading, watching and listening, and have a great day!
Paul Hickey, Founder / CEO / Lead Strategist at Data Driven Design, LLC has created and grown businesses via digital strategy and internet marketing for more than 10 years. His sweet spot is using analytics to design and build websites and grow the audience and revenue of businesses via SEO/Blogging, Google Adwords, Bing Ads, Facebook and Instagram Ads, Social Media Content Marketing and Email Marketing. The part that he’s most passionate about is quantifying next marketing actions based on real data.
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