Attention college students: times are changing. You can no longer simply go to class, get decent grades and get a job right out of college. Now, it’s so much more competitive. In order to get a job after graduation, you have to do all the above, while completing internships. In a recent article from USA Today, they outline the reasons as to why, “Internships are no longer optional.”
The article is a question and answer session with a woman who had 15 different internships while in college and since then, has created her own company. I summarized the article’s main points and whether I, a current college student in the hunt for a job, agree with these reasons.
Internships provide hands-on experience and the opportunity to create professional relationships.
- Absolutely true. Internships are the first step to landing a job. It’s not just a resume builder but also a way for you to get a peek into the real world and understand how it works. Internships also give you the opportunity to make connections with people in your field of interest who will be able to help you succeed in your future.
Go for the internship you want, not just the ones that are available at the time.
- Don’t take the easy route and just apply for any internship. Apply for internships that you actually want otherwise it will be a waste of your time. By applying for internships you actually want, you’ll ultimately learn more and have a more positive internship experience.
If you have contact information with an organization, use it… and don’t forget to follow-up.
- If you have a contact somewhere, don’t hesitate to reach out to them for help with getting an internship. Remember, they were in your shoes at one point and they’re most likely going to be willing to help. However, if you don’t know anyone in the organization you want to work for, there’s no harm in cold calling them. That will show them that you’re confident and determined to work for that specific organization.
Visit your school’s career center.
- This is an incredibly valuable resource that not enough students use. They are one of the first places that employers go to when they’re seeking students to fill their internships spots.
List only the most impressive tasks on your resume.
- Because resumes should only be a page, don’t waste valuable space on tasks that aren’t impressive. For example, don’t use space saying that you filed during an internship. Anyone can file so think of more important tasks to enhance your resume.
Unpaid internships are not a waste of time.
- I agree with this statement the most. As hard and frustrating as it may be to commit a lot of time and not get anything tangible back, it’s still worth it. You’re getting paid not with money, but with experience and contacts, which will ultimately lead you to a paycheck.
Follow up, but recognize when it’s over.
- There’s a fine line between being persistent and annoying. Follow ups show that you care and you’re determined but if they don’t get back to you after two calls, give it up. Clearly, it’s not meant to be so you should stop wasting your time focusing on someone who clearly isn’t focused on you. Spend your time on other organizations that are more willing to talk to you and work with you.
Prepare for your interview
- There’s nothing worse than when you go into an interview unprepared. Make sure you dress appropriately, always over-dress as opposed to under-dress, and do your research. Know the company’s history and recent accomplishments to talk about during the interview. They’ll be impressed that you did research and will remember you for it.
Internships aren’t necessarily required, but it’s one of the most important things you could do in college to give you the best possible chance at success in the future. Give yourself a head start by getting experience so you’re prepared for the post-college life.