Serving up the perfect 'DIY' internship

Instead of searching for an internship that suits your needs, ever wonder what it would be like to do the opposite: actually create your dream internship and find someone or some company that needs it? Sound impossible? Well it's not.

I recently interviewed Donna Farrugia, executive director of the staffing agency The Creative Group, a division of Robert Half International. She told me a great story about her son Dan's internship experience. In 2009, Dan decided it would be fun to intern for his longtime friend and professional tennis player, Sam Querrey, so he pitched the idea. Sam loved it. Dan soon became Sam's right-hand man, handling a plethora of duties ranging from travel arrangements to distributing tickets to matches and even stringing racquets.

He accompanied and worked for Sam across the United Sates, traveled to Bangkok, met a wide array of people in the sporting business, and even received a sweet salary in the process, according to an article in Dan's alma mater Cornell's alumni magazine. Not only was the internship fun, but was an invaluable part of Dan's education and tool to achieve his goal of becoming a sports attorney.

You don't have to be friends with someone to approach them about an internship. A few years ago, a journalism graduate at Columbia College Chicago, where I work, approached a guest speaker from a class about an internship with his online media critique site, The Beachwood Reporter. The only compensation he sought: an occasional discussion with the site's founder/operator, Steve Rhodes, about his views on journalism. The experience proved valuable for both.