It used to be all you needed to get a good job was a college degree. Not anymore (sorry college students). Today’s employers want people with experience 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, that’s how.
Why Should You Do An Internship?
Internships can play a big part in helping you build a foundation for a successful career. They give you a glimpse at the ‘real world’, teach you important skills and habits, and let you test drive a particular career so you can see what it’s really like. Most important, they help you make authentic connections that can pay big dividends down the road.
When you think of an intern, maybe you envision someone running around getting coffee or passing out the mail. Not anymore. Today interns are valuable contributors to their host organization. They’re given a chance to learn and contribute quickly, and when they excel, it could just lead to a full-time gig down the road. Think of it as a interview in action. The more you can do during your time in college, the better.
Finding The Right Internship For You
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 the ambitious type and you know what industry your interested 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 (if you're looking to intern for a nonprofit organization)
- Internqueen.com (site of Lauren Berger, internship expert and author of Welcome To The Real World – )
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. And, of course, your local library is always a great resource.
Finish Up Right
During your time in college you should try to fit in at least one internship a year. 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 you can use on your LinkedIn profile. These can really help when it comes time to go out and get a full-time job.
And, of course, always send a handwritten thank you note (via snail mail) to your supervisor and anyone else who helped you land the internship in the first place. People will appreciate the personal sentiment and they’ll be more likely to remember you in the future.
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.