Not only do today’s employers want a recognized degree, they are looking for experience. They want their newest employees to be proven self starters – those who
can hit the ground running and make an immediate impact in their company. But how do you get experience before you even have a job? By doing an internship.
Why Should You Get an Internship?
Internships can play a big part in helping you build a foundation for a successful career. They give you a glimpse of the ‘real world’, teach you important work and life skills, and let you test drive a particular career so you can see what it’s really like. Most importantly, they provide you with the opportunity to make authentic connections that can pay big dividends.
Internships are not just running around getting coffee or passing out the mail. Most of todays interns are valuable contributors to their organization. They’re given a chance to learn and contribute quickly, and when they succeed, it could lead to a full-time gig down the road. Think of it as an action interview.
How to Find the Right Internship
So how exactly do you get an internship? One way is to stop in your school’s career center and find out what companies they traditionally partner with. Many times you’ll find that colleges work as feeders for a particular company or industry and therefore have internships opportunities every semester.
If you’re a little more independent and a self seeker, you will know what industry or company interests you in, cold calling is also an option. Look up companies in your target field and give them a call. Ask to speak to their internship coordinator. If they don’t have one, tell them that you’re interested in interning with their company. They may just have something for you. Employers love this type of go-getter attitude.
Another way is through the Internet. There are dozens of sites out there that specialize in helping people find the right internship for them. Here are just a few:
● Idealist.org (for a nonprofit organization internship)
● Internqueen.com (site of Lauren Berger, internship expert and author of Welcome To The Real World – Finding Your Place, Perfecting Your Work, and Turning Your Job into Your Dream Career)
You can also reach out to friends, family, and other contacts to find internship opportunities. Check with your high school counselor, former and current teachers, your friends’ parents, coaches, and anyone else you know who has a lot of connections or works in the corporate world.
Finish Up Right
Try to fit in at least one internship a year while you’re in college. And when you finish an internship, make sure you do it right. As you’re nearing the end of your time with the company or organization, ask your supervisor for a recommendation letter or quote or an endorsement you can use on your LinkedIn profile. These can really help when it comes time to go out and get a full-time job. Always send a personalized, almost immediate thank you note. Be remembered.
Finding the right internship can take some time and effort. But as long as you dedicate yourself to your search and make the most of the opportunity when the time comes, it will be an experience that will help you build the type of career you’ve always dreamed of.