5 Things I Learned From My First Internship Experience

By Emma Hudson

(Photo courtesy of Cassidy Klos, Port City Community Church)

Throughout my college career, I have always been told the value of having an internship. It’s a “resume booster,” “gives you connections,” and “allows you to apply skills from the classroom.” When I applied to be an intern with Port City Production, I banked on these expectations being fulfilled. Little did I know, this internship would provide so much more.

After eight months at Port City Community Church, my time as a production intern is coming to a close. The technical skills and life lessons I have learned are immeasurable, and I could not have asked for a better internship experience. Below are five of the most important aspects I will carry with me in my future endeavors:

It’s okay to make mistakes.

Ever since I can remember, I have been a perfectionist. While this has motivated me and allowed me to succeed, it has proved damaging. When I failed at something, even if it were my first try, it would impact my self-worth. Ultimately, my perfectionism often left me feeling worthless.

The first gathering I produced was not what I would call a disaster, but coming from a perfectionist, it was far from perfect. I missed giving several cues, told others to put slides on the screens at the wrong moments, and pressed incorrect buttons about half a dozen times. When the gathering was over, I came up to the team meeting feeling embarrassed and guilty. I believed I had let the team down. However, to my surprise, I was applauded by staff and my fellow interns for my work.

For the next few weeks, I continued to beat myself up over every little mistake I made. I would miscount a cue and instantly feel like I ruined the entire night. Despite every part of me believing I had wronged the team; I was always met with a staff member congratulating me for my work. I would be told how much I added to the gathering and that I am continuously improving. Slowly, the perfectionist tendencies I had once entangled myself in unraveled.

The best part about making mistakes is they are an opportunity to learn and grow. You will inevitably make mistakes, but what matters is how you recover from them. As interns, we are a work in progress and will be a little rough around the edges.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Coming into the internship, I was a bit afraid of asking questions. I was nervous that I would be perceived as incompetent or looked down upon. When I began making mistakes as a producer, however, it proved vital to ask questions so I could avoid the same problems. I quickly learned that the production staff was not only there to help, but they wanted to. They wanted to see me succeed and become confident in my skills. An internship is a learning experience, and asking questions allows you to flourish.

Teamwork is vital.

Group projects have always been one of my least favorite aspects of school. There always seems to be a slacker dragging the group behind, making the task more difficult for everyone involved. This would often leave me carrying much of the group weight and wishing I could do the project independently. However, I quickly learned the importance of teamwork as a production intern.

On the production team, there are a lot of different roles. This includes lighting, sound, producer, director, CG, switcher, stagehands, and six cameras. If we do not have just one of these roles filled, it is impossible to create a gathering. Not only this, but each role relies on the other to operate. For example, the director relies on the cameras to have shots, while the cameras rely on the director to know when their shots are on the screen. If communication does not occur between these positions, the whole operation will be thrown off.  Hence, the experience taught me the importance of collaboration and its impact on department success.

Take risks and try something new.

In the second semester of the internship, I was asked if I was interested in taking pictures for @portcityproduction on Instagram. Coming into the internship, I had only taken photos for fun and did not have much experience adjusting settings manually. On top of this, the room I was to be taking pictures in was dark, which is not something I had shot in before. While I was nervous about taking on this responsibility, I was excited to acquire a greater skill set.

The first several times I took photos, I mostly tried to replicate pictures that others had taken before. I would use the same settings, capture the same moments, and get the same angles. As time went on, however, I began to take risks with pictures. Instead of only remaining in the main section of the room, I started to take photos in new places like backstage and on the balcony. While sometimes these pictures would not work out, a lot of the time, I would get unique shots that I was proud of. I now feel confident in my photography skills and have developed my personal style. Stepping out of your comfort zone can be scary but taking a leap of faith will help you grow immensely.

Find a mentor.

When coming into the internship for the first day, I was intimidated by the staff team. They were older, wiser, and much more knowledgeable in their craft. Still, I knew the value of finding someone to guide me as I adjusted to my role. Lucky for me, throughout my time with Port City Production, I have gained not just one, but five mentors. These staff members have influenced me in a professional and a personal way. Some of the most notable lessons I have learned are how to better serve others, live selflessly, grow in my faith, and leave some of the weight I carry behind.

Even if your advice from your mentor does not extend to your personal life, it will still allow you to be supported by and learn from someone with years of experience. They also may offer you guidance in the professional world and help you through stressful times. Much of this advice is rarely just a search away on Google.

To wrap it up…

When thinking about future students going into their first internship, I want to encourage them to not just see it as an opportunity for business connections and skill growth but deep connections and personal growth. Having an internship puts you in a unique position to be mentored and learn and develop qualities of yourself you had not yet touched. I am so grateful for the family I have found in Port City Production and hope that every student experience such great transformation in their internships to come.

Port City Production 2021-2022 Team
(Photo courtesy of Zack Hamby, Port City Community Church)


(Photo courtesy of Matthew Berry, Port City Community Church)

Emma is a Communication Studies major with a minor in Digital Arts. She has a passion for content creation and, upon graduating in the spring of 2024, hopes to pursue a career in the integrated marketing field.