It’s no secret – internships are a critical part of a college student’s experience. They not only help students identify career paths, but also potentially build connections within a career field leading to a permanent position.
So, what are you waiting for? Career Services Advisor Jamie Hufford says there are always internships available, and students should start looking for one as early as their first quarter.
Where to Start
Your career services department on campus, Hufford says, is a great place to start looking for an internship. You can also look at your college’s job or employment board.
“I get three to four calls a week from employers asking about internships and 90 percent are paid,” said Hufford. “I have the employers post them on Rasmussen College’s online employment database called JobConnect. If I know a student is looking for an internship, I go directly to them.”
Hufford says it’s also important to get to know your instructor and let them know you are interested in interning one day.
“I often go to our faculty when we have an open internship and ask ‘do you have anyone who would be a good fit for this position?’” said Hufford.
Hufford says students can also look for internship opportunities on internships.com, a website focused on providing internship resources for students, employers and educators. If there is a specific employer you’d like to work for, Hufford says reach out to them directly.
“Call them or ask someone you know who works there if there are any internship opportunities,” said Hufford. “Most companies would gladly take an intern even if they are not actively looking for one.”
Application Process – Treat it Like a Job
Once you’ve identified a potential internship opportunity, Hufford says it’s time to get your resume ready and start asking for recommendations.
“Every internship application process is different,” said Hufford. “For most, you’re going to need a resume, which your career services advisor can help you with. If you are a design student, you are going to need a portfolio of your recent work.”
Next, it’s time to start asking for recommendations, which Hufford says you shouldn’t expect to happen overnight.
“You can’t assume someone is going to give you a letter of recommendation, and you certainly don’t want to blindside them,” said Hufford. “Reach out to your contacts by email first. Then, request a time to meet with them. In person, you can then explain why you feel you’d be a good candidate for the internship.”
Like a part-time or full-time job, most internships will also require an interview. And as with any job interview, Hufford says it’s important to study as much as you can about the internship.
“Do your research,” said Hufford. “The employer is going to ask you what you can do for the company, so be knowledgeable about the company and the position.”
Whether it’s a four-week or six-month internship, Hufford says make sure you follow-up. Write them a thank you note and stay in contact with the people you worked with closely during the internship. It may not result in a job right away, but those people may know others in your field looking for future employees just like you.
“At Rasmussen College, students don’t receive class credit for internships, but if you treat it like a job, there’s a very good chance the internship will lead to something permanent,” said Hufford.