Posts Tagged ‘summer internships’

What an Internship Can Do for Your Career

Internship

Photo: money.howstuffworks.com

When it comes to today’s competitive job market, having any kind of upper hand is essential. Hundreds of applications and resumes are being pushed onto employers, with only a dozen or so given the opportunity for an interview, and only one or two of those given a position. You’re going to need something that really makes you stand out! That’s why so many college students are turning to internships these days. In fact, some colleges have decided to make it a mandatory part of their curriculum necessary for graduation! Check out these tips on what scoring an internship during college, or even after college, can do for your career.

Get Real World Experience

The most obvious benefit from getting an internship in a field related to your career is that you will be given on the job, real-world experience. While your fellow classmates will graduate with knowledge in their area of expertise, having an internship on your resume means in addition to all of that knowledge, you have experienced first-hand how that information is applied in the workforce. While your classmates have all of the ingredients to bake a cake, you’ve actually baked the cake! That may not seem like much difference to you now, but to the individual who will train you in your first entry-level job, it’s a big difference!

Get Real World Connections

An equally important benefit to getting an internship in college is that you’ll be put in connection with many other people in your field who already have what you want- a job! This is a huge opportunity for you to network. By getting on good terms with those you work with, and by making an impression on the higher ups, you will be opening doors to your future. In another year, or two, or three, they might just want to pay you to come work for them! If they don’t have openings, they are likely to have connections with other businesses that could use you. Regardless of what they can do for you, they can point you in some kind of direction, hopefully with a flattering letter of recommendation.

Get a Real World Reality Check

While an internship is a great way to get a jump start on your career, it’s also a great way to make sure you’re heading toward the right one! Too often, students find themselves in their senior year of college, or in their first entry-level job, with the realization that what they had worked for over the last four years isn’t actually what they want to do for a living. Sometimes the difference between learning about a subject, and having a job related to that subject, are dramatically different. Having an internship early on in college is the best way to make sure that situation doesn’t happen to you.

College Years: Getting that Summer Internship

Entering your college years is like stepping into a vortex of fun, fatigue and the constant search for that perfect internship.

College, being your first real taste of independence will, for most people, be fun.  And, for most people, the delicate balance of academics and procrastination will turn you into a zombie.  But even truer a constant than these two collegiate states of existence is the fact that you’ll feel like Frodo Baggins on an epic mission to track down that dream of an internship before anybody else snatches it.

The perfect student internship could be the gateway to your dream job after graduation.

So, how do you get a hold of a great summer internship?

While there’s no such thing as a “bad” internship, one that has a little something to do with your interests and career goals might be the place to start. After that, you’ll want to look up.

Networking
Networking may seem like an intimidating process, but it’s easier than you think. Talk to parents, professors, friends of the family, anybody with a few good years on you whose role in the working world you admire.  Let them know what type of internship you’re interested in, and ask them if they have any colleagues or friends they can put you in contact with.  Remember, it’s called “Networking” because it doesn’t just stop at one contact–if that were the case it would be called “Lining.”  One new contact can lead to a, ahem, NETWORK, of other contacts you could and should reach out to.

Networking “DO”:

  • Treat all people with whom you come in contact with respect, courtesy and professionalism

Networking “DON’T”

  • Don’t put off getting in touch with a contact if you can’t see the direct effect it might have for your internship search

Email
When it comes to “reaching out,” you want to tread carefully.  For example, sending a mass email to all of your contacts at once is poor form.  Instead, keep the email personal and concise. If you are contacting a person you’ve never spoken to before, clarify in the subject line how you know them and what you might be looking for.  For example: “Given your name by Al Bundy” or “Referred by: Peggy Bundy. Seeking Career Advice.”

People’s email get overloaded with spam and bad jokes, so make sure that your email stands out with brevity and clarity.

Within your email, introduce yourself with a brief bio and what you are looking to do (long-term).  Avoid write out your entire resume at all costs. Think more along the lines of 1-2 sentences.  Also, don’t email a person blindly.  Do some research about their company to prove your genuine interest. Do not ask for a job.  I repeat: Do not ask for a job.  That part is understood and if the contact wants to help you, they will follow up with either an internship opportunity or another person to contact.

Sometimes, you won’t get a response at all.  In that case, brush your shoulders off and move on.

Email “DO’s”:

  • Ask for advice or any other questions you might have about the company, the internship, the contact’s experience
  • Carefully edit your emails for spelling errors.  Your computer’s spell-check is not infallible.

Email “DON’T's”:

  • Don’t assume the contact will help you
  • Don’t demand the contact to help you

Thank You
Always, always, always thank the people who help you. No matter how far along they get you–whether to an interview or just answering a basic question about their line of work–say “thank you.”  Sending an email 24-48 hours after your meeting, interview or informational session will keep you in their minds and let them know that you’re a courteous person.  Nobody wants to work with a jerk.  So if you’re a jerk, a congenial thank you email can be a helpful disguise.

Thank you “DO’s”:

  • Remind the contact who you are
  • Make a connection to how your skills would help their company

Thank you “DON’Ts”:

  • Don’t send a “Thanks for nothin’” email
  • Don’t send a sob story about why you need this internship

The best piece of advice we can give you is to go at your internship search with an open mind. You never know what you might find to fill your summer.