Posted by Katie Taggart
As I’m nearing my final semester at school, I’ve decided to get ahead of the game and start on my job search. Looking through job postings, I’ve noticed something interesting, you need experience for everything. Even that entry level position needs at least two-to-five years’ experience to be considered for the position. Where do you get this experience? Internship.
Internships, internships, internships. They are the number one thing that can get you prepared for the job market we have today. In a recent survey by The Chronicle and the American Public Media’s Marketplace, employers said that many candidates, though they had the right qualifications, they were unprepared for the job. The only way to become prepared for it, was to actually do it.
For me, I have done two already, but I’m planning on a third one in the spring. From my experience, I did learn a couple of things that I hope can be applicable to my future. I not only learned about the specific field but also what it is like in the real world. You learn about working together with other people (as well as putting up with them), how to focus your time, and how to do the job you want to do.
My first internship was at a local independent paper. I worked at the front desk and had to do a lot of communicating with different restaurants and business. I also had the chance to edit and write some articles for two of their publications. I had also done some grunt work around the office but I think that sometimes that’s a good thing. What you have to look out for is if a company is using you as a staff member. What I mean by this is if you are interning in a position that would be better suited for a paid employee. Sadly, with the economy and overall cast of employment, there are many companies out there that will take advantage of unpaid college students just looking for credits and experience. Luckily, I wasn’t in that kind of situation.
My other internship was in the promotions department at a local radio station. This was very fun and I learned a bit about the business, but there were some things that I didn’t consider. Although I enjoyed it, I don’t think I gained that much experience from the internship. I wasn’t challenged that much. It was too easy and I don’t think that I really learned anything new while being there.
So here is my advice when searching for an internship. Find one at a company that will treat you well (paid internships, I find, follow this very well). If you cannot find a paid internship, make sure that the one you do get treats their interns well.
Also make sure that you will be getting something out of it. Don’t do it because it’s easy, do it to learn the business and get contacts for references.
How to get the right internship for you? Luckily, many schools have recognized the importance of an internship to their students and so they have departments dedicated to helping you find the one that’s right. There are also websites like Indeed.com, LinkedIn.com, and Internmatch.com that can tell you what companies are looking for interns. Or, if there’s a company you really want to work for, call in and see if they are willing to take you on.
When looking for the right internship, make sure that it is in the field of study that you’re in. It will help you not only learn the business, but could also lead to some job opportunities. I will say this though, not all internships are a ticket to job town. Sometimes, if you’re lucky they can, but don’t expect the employer to feel obligated to hire you.
When you have you’re internship, try to get the most out of it. If you’ve finished a task, ask for another. Don’t just sit around twiddling your thumbs. Take initiative. It will show that you are a strong worker and you can use this in your resume when you’re applying for jobs. You should also get to know the people you’re working for. If they see that you do good work, they can refer you to someone that could hire you. Lastly, you should realize that this is practice for the real world. You are not expected to know everything from the beginning. Take your time to learn how things work. Remember, you’re still a student.
My last piece of advice that I have found helpful is to always think of how this will affect your future. Try and work hard now and it will benefit you in the long run.