Movies or TV show often portray an intern as someone who takes coffee orders and makes photocopies. In reality, internships often provide hands-on experience that will help you land your first full-time job. It will teach you new skills and give you a leg up when applying for future jobs.
What Kind of Internship is Best?
There are several categories of internships including co-ops, fieldwork, practicums, service learning, externships and apprenticeships. It’s up to you to determine which one fits your needs.
While hunting for the perfect internship, consider:
• Your field of interest
• What kind of compensation you need—internships can be paid or unpaid
• Whether or not you’d like the internship to count for university credit
• Your availability
As you do your research, find out when the job will begin and end. Some internships only last for the summer, while others can last for years. Some even have flexible schedules, which are great for students.
Your time as an intern will:
• Help you decide if you’d like working in a particular field
• Help you develop your interests and refine your goals for the future
• Provide you with valuable experience that will appeal to future employers
• Help you develop business connections
Where Do You Find an Internship?
One way to find an internship is by talking to your friends and family. Or if there’s a business you are interested in, try talking to someone there to see if they offer internships. Also, check out your college’s career center.
There are a number of websites that will help you find an internship. You can narrow down your search by location, major, compensation, and time frame.
Here’s a partial list of sites that list internships:
Getting an Internship Opportunity
Your résumé is your ticket to an interview. It outlines your education, experience and skills in one page. A cover letter explains why you want the position, and the qualities you have that make you a great candidate.
It’s important to tailor your résumé for each internship you apply for. Read each job description carefully to understand the skills and experience the company is looking for, then highlight the similar skills you’ve gained from personal experience.
Ace Your Interview
Help the interview go smoothly by preparing ahead of time:
• Prepare for possible questions. You can do this by looking online or asking others who have had internship interviews. Ask a friend or family member to help you run through answers.
• Dress neatly and appropriately for the company. The rule is usually that overdressing is better than underdressing. Show you are serious about the position and you want the internship.
• Give yourself plenty of time to get there. A late arrival to the interview definitely won’t help your nerves—plus getting there early will show that you are organized and punctual.
Once you get to the interview, keep these things in mind:
• Collect your thoughts before answering each question. A well thought out answer will reflect better on you than blurting out the first thing that pops into your head.
• End on a good note. Make a point of making a statement or asking a question to show your interest. Make sure to thank your interviewers and send them a thank you note after the interview.