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How to get an Internship and why it matters

Written by

Claudia Rojas

Date

May 25, 2018

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How to get an internship

An internship is a great way to explore potential careers and to get an early foot in door. However, many students have trouble figuring out how to get an internship. Internships are wrapped up in all sorts of packaging: they are paid, unpaid, part-time, full-time, short-term, or long-term. What they share in common is that at their core, internships benefit the college student or recent graduate. The internship is important in any form. As a student, your priority is school, so an internship is a chance to gain work experience without jeopardizing schoolwork.

Internships are designed for college students and recent grads. It’s a good idea to apply for internships early. An internship can be the affirmation or negation you need to make career choices. Internships are especially useful if you have several career interests.

What are the tangible rewards of an internship?

Some internship employers offer course credit. Speak to the employer and a college advisor to make arrangements. Take time to learn about any internship programs at your school. For example, the University of Chicago is helping low-income students with stipends if their internship provider doesn’t offer a wage.

Internships are a chance at earning money, sometimes. Earning money will depend on the organization—a large company is likely to have the means to pay an intern. Non-profits or small organizations, on the other hand, will not. Large business or tech companies like J.P. Morgan or IBM reportedly pay interns an hourly wage of $20 and above. Higher wages will go to those students with relevant skills or knowledge in a field and those who are far along in their degree program.

What are some other rewards of an internship?

An internship will provide you with a full professional experience. That’s an awesome perk for college students. Before graduating, you will already know how to use the technology in your field and some of the technology typical to most workplaces: e-mail services, messaging apps, online storage apps, office machines, and even the coffee machine.

An internship is a way to learn team skills and networking. Don’t underestimate the most boring of tasks. In fact, master the boring tasks. Make a name for yourself. Excel as an intern, so that your team can speak highly of you. This is how you can gain a strong reference.

With an internship, you have access to professionals. Take advantage of that and learn the background of your colleagues. Does a certain position interest you? Then, show a genuine interest in your colleagues as persons and make a note of what professional paths people have taken. Attend staff parties or dinners. Connect online. The internship experience doesn’t have to be boring at all; make it a learning adventure.

How to get an internship

Think of finding an internship as finding a job because you’ll use similar strategies. Start with evaluating all your resources, online and offline. Do this early, at least a whole season early. If you want a summer internship, you will need to apply around March when employers open up positions.

Do your best to speak with a professional at your school’s career center or a professor about your plans; these are the people who will recommend places that no online article can provide. Reach out to your network. LendEDU’s 2017 Internship Report found that 43% of summer interns owed their internship to family connections, while 31% to the internet.

Your next step is to research companies. Make a list of companies you admire and visit the Careers or Jobs section on their websites. If there’s an internship opening, go for it. If not, keep on checking. Research the company employees on social media or LinkedIn to see if you have any mutual connections. Reach out to employees and remember to keep any LinkedIn messages professional. Some postings for internships may not be available online, so finding an inside connection is a plus.

Search on job boards. Popular and easy sites are Indeed.com, Internships.com, LinkedIn, and Craigslist. You can also explore under the jobs tab on Facebook. Filter your searches to “internships” and type a desired location and title: “digital media intern,” “accounting intern,” etc.

Stay organized. With school projects, family events, and general life happenings, it’s easy to lose track of upcoming internship deadlines. Keep a calendar or list of internship application deadlines and requirements, making a habit to check regularly. Get in touch with potential references. In these ways, you will set yourself up for success!

When applying for internships, remember to take the process as seriously as you would a job. Make sure to review your cover letter and resume thoroughly, and get help, if needed. You want to make the strongest impression possible.  

What happens after the internship?

If you completely wowed the boss, and there’s room and need for someone like you, lots of good things could come your way. An internship can lead to a full-time job. For 2017, the National Association of Colleges and Employers reported that 51% of interns become full-time workers.

Maybe you walk away without a full-time offer or need to a decline an offer. That’s all fine as long as you don’t burn bridges and leave on a positive note. You never know—a position that fits you may open up in the future. And that resume of yours? It will glow a little brighter with internship experience and new skills.

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Written by:  Claudia Rojas

Claudia Rojas is a freelance writer and a poet with a Bachelor’s in English from George Mason University. She is a proud first generation college student. Claudia’s poetry appears in The Acentos Review, Poetry is Dead, and The Bookends Review.

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