How to Use Internships to Jumpstart Your Career
In only the last five years, internships have become one of the most popular strategies that college students are using to find jobs after graduation. If you haven’t been thinking about finding an internship too, this could be the time to start looking for one. Summer is coming up. And summer is the time when most companies welcome interns through their doors.
What Are Internships?
An internship is an unpaid job that companies offer to college students. If those words – “unpaid job” – sound off-putting to you, perhaps it is time to think again. The fact is that more and more companies are using internships to identify students whom they will hire after they graduate from college. So even though you will probably be working for no pay if you take an internship, you will be putting yourself ahead of many other job-seekers after graduation. Think of the non-pay as an investment in your future.
What Kind of Work Do Interns Do?
The answer is, it depends on the company. Some give interns only low-level work to do – tasks like inputting data, filing, or even fetching lunch for company executives. Other companies give interns more meaningful tasks to perform, like conducting market research or analyzing website performance. Some companies even provide classes and training. The best way to learn about the job content of an internship is to talk to someone from the company or, if possible, talk to some interns who have been in the company’s program before.
How Can You Find Companies that Offer Internships?
Companies almost always work directly with college placement offices. Few run ads for internships. So the bottom line is, visit your college’s career office to see what is posted there. Another way to find internships is to get networked into your college’s alumni network, get to meet some alums, and see whether their companies are offering internships. In addition, here are some websites that offer information that could help you connect to the right internship opportunity:
How Can You Turn an Internship into a Job?
There is no one answer to that question. Interns who have gotten hired after graduation say that it depends on a number of factors like these:
- Being willing to work long hours without complaining.
- Refusing to “show off” by talking about everything that you learned in college. Quiet, hard work seems to count for more.
- Fitting in with the company culture. If everyone at the company where you are interning wears conservative clothing, do that too. If they tend to be more casually dressed entrepreneur types, adopt that style too. As one intern who got hired told us, “Looking like you already work for a company, like I did, counts for a lot.”
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