It’s your graduation day, and you’re visiting with a few friends while waiting to walk into the ceremony. One friend is planning on spending his summer at home while figuring out what to do in the fall. Another is fretting over finding a job immediately. They both look at you in a way that suggests you are more accomplished than they after you announce you’ve already got a job lined up. A job secured by the experience and references you gained during college internships.
An internship is a paid or unpaid temporary position at a company where you get to utilize your field of study. Ideally, your interning opportunity should provide you with real-world experience. It should also help you earn college credits or direct wages.
When applying for an unpaid internship, a student should expect to learn a myriad of new things. Paid internships usually allow applicants to utilize their existing knowledge in a live environment.
The role of the intern can be varied or specialized. Unpaid internships involve more diverse than specific work. If you do not have to pay for a resource, company policy is less strict. When paying an intern, organizations stress deliverables to ensure the cost has a direct benefit to the enterprise’s bottom line.
No matter what internship draws your interest, make sure it provides you with real resume-building value. You don’t want to be the company’s newest barista when you thought you’d be learning finance. Good internships offer additional value in the form of academic credits, company benefits, and possibly stipends for travel, food, and housing.
How will you set yourself apart from other graduates? With an increase of over 30% in the past decade, bachelor’s degrees are on the rise. Attaining a higher education level no longer carries the clout it once did. A few quality internships will set you apart from those graduating at the same time and in the same field as you.
In 2012 alone, nearly 70% of all companies with intern programs later offered interns full-time employment. Companies and individuals generally prefer to work with familiar faces. Because of that, it’s best to treat each internship as if you were a dedicated full-time employee. Wowing those managing the internship programs could land you a job right out of college.
The number of companies offering internships is increasing rapidly, with 36% more organizations offering internships between 2011 and 2012 alone. The number of intern roles available more than doubled from 2012 to 2013. Should the program be too far away to commute, sSome companies even offer virtual internships. 33% of employers are willing to hire virtual interns; a 20% rise from 2011 to 2012.
Even if you do a stellar job at your internship, and aren’t hired after graduation, your time was not wasted. 66% of employers find applicant conduct during interviews and related work history to be important facets of their hiring process.
Internships are often offered through your department at school, the career center at your school or through the company itself.
Here are some online resources to aid you in your internship search:
Once you’re applied for an internship, make sure to reply quickly to any phone calls, emails or documentation requests. If you are offered a chance to interview, make the most of it by studying the company’s website and press releases.
Think of detailed questions you’ll want to ask about the internship. If the company makes you an offer, accept immediately, as this tells them that you’re serious. If you’re hesitant to accept the offer, then you may have done poor research during the application process.
After your interview, it’s always best to make gestures that show how grateful you are the opportunity. One such gesture is to send a handwritten thank you note following your interview.
If you haven’t heard anything back within a couple weeks of applying, you can contact them with a brief note, email or telephone call. That said, one of the questions to ask during your interview should regard their hiring timeline.
What kinds of things should be avoided in a potential internship? Dangerous working conditions is a big one to avoid. An internship in a construction or factory environment, that involves hands-on labor, is not the kind of internship that will land you a high paying job down the road. Those types of positions are traditionally called apprenticeships, which we will discuss in a later article.
If an internship requires you pay any fees, you may wish to reconsider applying. Unfortunately, there are fake interning opportunities that exist to steal unwitting applicants money.
Now that you’ve gotten some advice on the what, why, when and how of internships, it’s time to start applying to some. Check out some of the websites above to get a jump start on the application process. After college, internships present a fantastic opportunity to expand one’s prospects.