April 24, 2014

5 Tips for Internship Hunters

5 Tips for Internship Hunters - photo copyright 2012 Rick Sherrell

An internship can be a great opportunity for you to get some real-world experience in your field, make connections, and earn a little bit of money. Many schools even give students academic credit for internships. If you want to stand out in the crowd when you start applying to post-college jobs, it’s essential that you have internship experience on your résumé. Unfortunately, finding and actually getting an internship can be difficult, especially in this economy. If you’re hunting for an internship this semester, here are some tips to help make your life easier.

1. Seek the help of your campus career office

There should be career counselors at your campus career planning office that can help you find internship leads and help you craft your résumé. Additionally, your school probably has an internship and job board you can access to search for internship opportunities. Keep in mind that your college career counselors may be able to find you leads, but they probably won’t be able to get your foot in the door anywhere. It’s up to you to take the leads you’re given and pursue them.

2. Avoid limiting your options

Ask anyone who’s found a job in the past four years, and they’ll probably tell you they had to apply to multiple jobs before they landed an interview and scored a gig. Don’t expect instant gratification after you send out your first résumé and cover letter. There will be many other people competing for the internships you want, and some of those people will have more experience than you. Find ten or so internship opportunities, and apply to all of them. If none of them work out, apply to more.

3. Weed out unpaid internships

There’s a lot of debate about whether unpaid internships are ethical. The fact of the matter is that you’re a college student whose finances are already probably pretty tight. You owe it to yourself to find an internship that pays you for your time and work, even if it doesn’t pay you very much. The exception might be if you’re trying to get an internship at a nonprofit organization. It’s rare that a nonprofit will have the funding to hire a paid intern. So, if you want your internship to give you the opportunity to be a do-gooder, you might have to volunteer your time.

4. Practice for interviews

If you’re still in college, you may not have much experience with professional interviews. Because of this, it’s critical that you practice for each of your internship interviews. One of the best ways to prepare for an interview is to get together with one of your friends and stage a mock interview. During the mock interview, your friend can ask you common interview questions. Practicing for an interview in this way will help you get an idea of what a real interview is like and help you answer common interview questions.

5. Don’t give up until you find an internship

When most people look for jobs, there’s a sense of urgency that basically forces them to keep on trying until something works out. When college students look for internships, it’s a little bit different. You probably don’t have to get an internship to pay your bills, and there’s probably not a sense of urgency when it comes to getting one. You may find that it’s difficult to get an internship, and you may feel like ending your internship hunt prematurely. Don’t do it! Keep on searching, applying, networking, and interviewing. You will find an internship eventually, and remember that having internship experience will make it easier for you to find a job after college.

Stephanie Brooks is a former English teacher who now gives her expertise in education to review the top 10 universities in the country. She also enjoys covering business-related topics such as marketing as well as topics relating to health and fitness. Feel free to leave comments.

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