You’ve done the class work, now it is time to show what you can do in the real world. One of the best bridges between the classroom and corporate America is an internship. Internships have gone from a highlight on your resume to a near essential these days. If you want to compete in a tough economy where more and more people are vying for fewer and fewer jobs you need to have at least one internship.
A Glimpse Into the Future
An internship does a lot more than just look good on your resume. It gives you real-world, hands-on experience and allows you to see firsthand how the lessons you’ve learned in the classroom apply in the industry you’ve studied. It also gives you a great sneak peak at what your future may hold and determine if that is what you really want. Often our visions of a certain industry or company are much different than reality. Completing an internship can help confirm your decision to pursue a specific field and even help narrow down what position you want to strive for. Equally as important, it can help you determine what you don’t want to do, saving you time and frustration early in your career.
It’s often said getting a job is it is all about who you know. There is no better way to get to know the important decision makers who may someday hire you than to intern for them. Think of it as an extended job interview with a chance to show your full potential. A good percentage of internships result in job offers, and it appears what kind of internship you get and where can increase those chances. According to a recent survey of 2011 college graduates by National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), more than 61-percent who had paid internships in the for-profit sector received job offers. If you do a good job, at the very least you will walk away from an internship with hands-on experience and a list of professional references.
Tips for Success
To get the most out an internship, you need to put the most into it. Professionalism, enthusiasm and a willingness to perform even the most menial tasks are crucial. Remember most of the people around you started the same way. While you may be eager to show your potential and make a difference, remember you are there to learn. You will impress employers the most by listening, observing and completing the tasks you are given in a timely manner. That will also lead to more responsibility. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. This is your opportunity to get all your questions about the industry, business or specific position answered directly from those in the know. Asking questions also shows a eagerness and willingness to learn, which can go a long way with an employer.
How to Find the Internships
It is never too early to start thinking about an internship. Don’t wait until your last year of school to apply. Starting earlier will increase your chances of getting the internship of your choice. If you can balance the load, apply for an spring or winter internship during the school year. Summer internships fill up fast and receive a lot of applicants. Be sure to have a current resume and cover letter ready to go at all times.
If you are not sure where to even start looking or how to apply, make the career services office your first stop. Career services advisors can be a wealth of information and resources. If you already have a list of companies you’d like to intern for, research and call them to learn more about their internship program. Friends, family and faculty members can also be a good resource. A personal referral from someone inside a company usually ensures your resume will be read and considered. There are also several internship databases that list internships in a variety of fields and locations.