Getting an internship can be rather difficult, trust me I know. Separating yourself amongst your academic competition may be strenuous at times, however the priceless knowledge and hands-on experience gained is beyond valuable. Many students fear the determination and diligent work ethic that is required to receive these opportunities, as I once did. However, if you’re persistent and set some goals along the way it’s not as bad as you think. Below are a few tips that helped me become a successful student, and in return I was able to receive an extremely beneficial opportunity as a summer intern with a national organization!
How You Can Prepare for Securing an Internship:
Be Academically Aware- Be conscious of what courses you are taking. Know what is required of your major regarding course selections and specific grade expectations; maximize each course as an opportunity to learn and do well. Try to gain a sense of your strengths and weaknesses, which will produce individual growth and confirmation of your chosen field of study. Always be eager to learn.
Get involved- Become involved on campus. Participate in academic groups related to your area of study. Participate in community service oriented activities. Make it a point to be in good standing with the University/College so you can receive information about internship opportunities. Learn how to network. Build relationships with professors and students that you admire, key connections can be life changing and these individuals will help you to succeed. Perform research; be knowledgeable about what/where you may want to gain experience.
Be Flexible- Don’t be afraid to apply. Do not let the description of the internship or application process deter you from gaining such a unique experience. Be prepared to fulfill all requirements the internship may include. Internships exist all over the country, be willing to travel; in the long run this could make you more marketable because it shows flexibility. Apply to multiple places; avoid limiting your opportunities due to the lack of potential employers. You are qualified and have prepared yourself to take on the role. Be eager to gain experience even if it is not in your preferred area. The more knowledgeable you are in areas outside your major concentration the more marketable you become when you graduate and are in search of that full time job.
Benefits of an Internship:
Gaining Experience- Experience is priceless! Learning different components of a profession in the classroom is important, but the hands-on experience gained through an internship is essential. The advantages of developing good work ethics, meeting project deadlines and the accountability required of an intern are all qualities that are illustrated during a successful internship. Learning and building relationships with successful individuals around you, gaining insight on how the company operates and each individual team coincides to produce success are great assets of gaining experience through an internship. Self-assessing your strengths and weaknesses are critical to help improve personal performance over these crucial years. “Think of your internship as a test drive.”
Finding Your Career Path- An internship may motivate you in many different directions. Who knows, you might realize that this is the exact career/area of study for you. Or you might find out that a course correction is needed. Don’t limit yourself or your learning. After all, an internship is a HUGE learning experience. Being able to assess what you’ve done over the summer and linking that to the same tasks you’ll be doing throughout a lifetime is pretty important as well. Not to mention, an internship is likely to open doors to new areas of interest; possibly help discover a new career path more applicable to you.
Getting a Competitive Advantage- In the long run, the experience an internship provides is definitely worth it. The importance of internships is highly discussed on campuses nationally, along with recognition within well-established corporations. As students, we gain advantages with interviewing skills, how to carry ourselves in a professional environment, direct networking opportunities, proven hands-on experience and much more. And if the internship offers pay incentives, that doesn’t hurt either. But whether there is compensation associated with an internship or not, the exposure you can have to the working world is an outstanding advantage that can quite possibly help you early on in your career by giving you a great “snapshot” of your future profession.