|Martin Yate CPC
NY Times Bestseller
Professional Resume Services
The easiest way to differentiate yourself from your competition is to get some real-world work experience, and the quickest way to do that is with an internship. Working as an intern for a few weeks or months helps you gain professional skills and learn about organizational culture. You will find out what it is like to work in a particular industry, make contacts, and maybe even get job offers.Employers really like internship programs because it allows them to test drive potential employees and chose those most suitable for their needs.
|For more advice for emerging professionals,
check out “Knock Em Dead Secrets & Strategies
For First Time Job Seekers” available on Amazon
Even if your internship doesn’t turn into a job offer, you will have gained real-world experience, and that beefs up your resume and helps you appear much more grounded and experienced at job interviews.
Paid Versus Unpaid
Both paid and unpaid internships exist. Paid internships are common in commercial and investment banking, venture capital, accounting, and IT. However, the more attractive the profession in terms of entertainment and celebrity, the less the internships are likely to pay, because competition for those internships is so keen. In these instances less pay—or no pay at all—allows employers to weed out all but the serious interns.
Ideally, you want to be paid for your work, but if ever there is a time in your career when you can work for nothing and still come out ahead, it is with an internship that will give you real-world experience and help jump-start your career.
What Job? What Industry? What Sort of Company?
Any internship is better than none, but if you have the choice you should look for opportunities that relate to the job you want, within industries where you would consider starting your career. E-commerce, for example, is a growing industry, and internships there are likely to lead to contacts and jobs in a growing market sector. On the other hand, if all you can get is an internship in the paper and pulp industry (it’s a dying industry in America and moving off-shore), while this is probably not a sector to set your sites on for a sustainable career, you would still be gaining experience in a professional workplace and any work experience is better than none.
When it comes to companies, everyone wants to work for Google or Apple. Great if you can pull it off, but there are also many other great options beyond the household names and Fortune 500 companies. You can work on terrific projects and gain valuable experience working for a little-known company as an intern—after all, Google started on a kitchen table in 1997.
How to Find Internships
There are plenty of intern resources on- and off-campus:
- Career Services Office. Ask for the internship coordinator.
- Alumni Association Office. Colleges increasingly ask alumni to sponsor internships.
- Major/Minor Department. Internship programs specific to your major are usually tracked by a faculty member; go to the department’s office and ask.
- Career Fairs. Campus career fairs feature companies recruiting entry-level employees, but you can also approach the recruiters about internships.
- Direct to employer. Identify desirable employers in your target location. You can then visit their websites to look for internship opportunities.
- Networking. You can apply all the networking techniques to discover internships.
- Job sites. Use Google and Bing and the search engines on job sites to search for relevant internships.
- Job spiders. Search for internships using job spiders such as Indeed.com and SimplyHired.com.
- Intern job sites. Check out these premier internship sites:
When you see postings for internships, respond as requested, but also remember to cross-reference the company with all your social networks, looking for people you know who work or have worked there. Ask them for referrals to the people handling internships—whenever you can reach out to someone personally, by name and by title, your odds of getting into conversation, and therefore of getting an offer, are that much better. You can also create your own opportunities for internships by simply asking those who are in a position to give you one. For example, if you are a business major, you can contact the owner of a local insurance or real estate agency and offer your services as a summer intern. You might be filling a need they didn’t know they had, gaining real-world work experience and your first professional reference.
Pursuing internships is an activity similar to job hunting: you have to pursue as many as are relevant to your goals, and you cannot afford to pin your hopes on one particularly attractive opportunity. Internships can disintegrate in front of your eyes just like certain job offer that never materialize, so follow up on all your internship applications right up till your first day of work.