Accepting the Reality of Life After College

The following is a guest blog, from Joe Ninowski, a current intern at Growing Leaders. Joe shares about his transition from backpack to briefcase. (He has been so teachable and productive—we offered him a full-time position in January). Enjoy.

The last thing I expected to do after graduating college was accept an internship.


Having spent the past four years balancing classes and caffeine binges, dorm events and all-nighters, I had prepared myself to move down a specific career path, a fusion between my Marketing degree and the world of multimedia. At least, that’s what I thought I would do.

But then I got a phone call.

A professor of mine wanted to know if I knew someone who’d be interested in an internship at Growing Leaders. The job required someone with media experience and a desire to work in a fast-paced environment, all for the cause of delivering leadership and character development to my age demographic.

Immediately, I thought back to the first time I had heard Tim Elmore speak, when I sat in on a lecture he’d delivered to my university’s faculty and staff. I remembered how his insights into my generation’s psychological and emotional challenges, both in the classroom and after graduation, had changed my life.

Because on that day, I had made an important realization: My emotional intelligence was severely lacking. And from that point forward, I had resolved to make greater strides in both understanding myself and preparing myself for the future ahead.

So when the internship at Growing Leaders was offered to me, I couldn’t help but note a unique irony: the organization that helped open my eyes to my emotional and professional shortcomings was now offering me a job.

Needless to say, I accepted the opportunity.

The amazing part about it is that my experience at Growing Leaders has been the bittersweet wake-up call I needed to successfully transition from college life to the real world: “sweet” in regards to the great experiences I’ve had and important things I’ve learned, but “bitter” in light of having to accept that the hard work and long hours of a full-time job will be the reality of the rest of my life. It’s not that I had never gotten to experience work before—I’d worked numerous jobs and internships during my time in college. It’s just that this internship, my first job post-college, has been pivotal in helping me come to terms with some major realities of life that college had allowed me to put off accepting.

Overall, this internship has been integral to transforming my artificial maturity into actual maturity, and has helped me identify strengths and weaknesses to begin working on. And that, as far as I can tell, is where life after college begins.

Question: Do you know any sharp student who might benefit from a Growing Leaders internship?  Invite them to apply on-line at:


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Accepting the Reality of Life After College