There are few things that are as important to a college student as an internship. It yields work experience to the intern, it unlocks a network of professional contacts that could help you land a job when you graduate, it helps you decide whether you want to work in that field for a career and it sparks friendships that last a lifetime. Speaking from experience, you will have enough amazing stories to last you a lifetime.
Some students prefer to take an internship over the summer when school isn’t in the way. Others like working through classes to help pay the rent. However, a lot of students struggle to find opportunities that fit exactly what they’re looking for. Here are a few pointers that can help:
1) Apply, apply, apply! Many students make the mistake of waiting until the last moment to send in a resume for their internship. Others are frightened by the word, ‘competition.’ While internships can be competitive, especially in cities like New York City and Washington DC, you are your toughest critic. You have a better chance than you think!
If you are turned down at first, don’t lose heart! Many internship programs are forced to turn down great applicants, especially in competitive seasons like the summer. You can always apply for the next term. Apart from that, you never know when you might get an email saying, “Another intern just dropped out, and we would like you to take his/her spot. Can you be here Monday?”
2) Know where to look. If you want to get involved in politics, the first place you will want to look for entry-level work is a local campaign. Internships in Washington DC also help you make connections and friends. Just like politics, each career field has its own hubs and tendencies. Ask your friends about opportunities that they may have seen, and join as many job-seeking sites as you can!
3) Make the necessary financial preparations. Not all internships actually pay. As a result, you will want to have enough money saved up to pay for food, rent and other miscellaneous costs.
Don’t be afraid to take a non-paying internship! The connections, experience and recognition may be worth it in the long run, such as work in a congressman/woman’s office.
4) Finally, when you get your first internship, work hard at it. Many students will work multiple internships before graduating, and may even work one or two more in the year following school. If you put in your time now, you can impress your supervisors who can help you land another job like it. It can be challenging sometimes, but it is worth the outcome.
Many interns think that if they make a mistake in their work, their chances of working for that organization are destroyed, but there is plenty of room for mistakes. Remember: Winners aren’t perfect. They make fewer mistakes than their rivals.
Internships can be intimidating. There is extensive competition, they don’t always pay well and there may be lots of travel involved. However, don’t let that stop you. An internship will give you a leg up on your competition when you seek a full-time job later, and when you sit back and remember your college days, you will be glad that you took that chance.