As a college student with little to no job experience, getting the right internship can make a world of difference for when you graduate. Because it gives you real world experience in the industry you want to work in, you can get a good idea of what it’s really like to work in that field and decide if it’s the right career path for you. Additionally, having job experience that you can include on your resume is essential for getting your foot in the door and landing a desirable job after you graduate, as many employers look beyond just education level. In fact, many companies choose to hire their interns after they graduate, so interning at the right company can help you land that perfect job opportunity.
Internships are usually very competitive—some more so than others. With so many college students looking for internships and only just a couple spots available at select companies each semester, it can be difficult to land that perfect internship. The following tips, however, can help:
Interns are often chosen far in advance, with deadlines approaching weeks (or even months) before the internship period begins. That means that even if you’re planning on interning somewhere in a few months—or even a year from now—begin looking now. Find out what companies in your area are offering internships, make a list of the ones that interest you, and take note of the application deadlines. In the meantime, it’s never too soon to begin building your resume, putting together your portfolio, and getting whatever else you’ll need to have ready to apply.
Find the right internship for you
Most colleges only offer their students the opportunity to receive credits through an internship just once, so make it count. Picking just any internship will just cheat yourself out of something that you could truly benefit from, so be sure to find the right internship for you, and not just any available internship. If it’s at a company you can honestly picture yourself working at once you graduate, that’s a good sign—otherwise, you might want to keep looking.
Ask your school
While looking online can be a great way to find available and upcoming internships, your college is also a good source for finding internships. Many college career departments are the first to know about upcoming internships, and can help you save a lot of time. Also, they can help you find internships that you might not have even been aware of otherwise.
Ask for recommendation letters
If you don’t have any job experience already, you’ll be competing against other applicants who do. If you can, try to get recommendation letters from professors to make up for this.
Build a portfolio
Some internship programs ask that applicants submit a portfolio, and it’s never too soon to begin working on it. Even if you aren’t asked to show some of your work, if it makes sense for the type of position you’re applying for (such as an art internship), it can be a good idea to have it ready in case you’re asked to come in for an interview.
Practice for your interview
Job interviews can be nerve-racking, and if you’ve never been on one before, it’s especially important to prepare beforehand. Have a mock interview with a family member or friend, and ask for feedback. Continue to practice until you feel ready to take on the real thing.
Show your enthusiasm
Once you’ve gotten an interview for an internship you’d love to have, be sure to let your excitement show. Remember that being an intern isn’t always the most glamorous job, and although it might give you an idea of what that particular industry is like, it could also mean taking care of mundane daily tasks. Explain that you’re willing to help out in any way you can, and you’re just excited to potentially be part of the team for the time being. Your willingness to learn and excitement towards the company are some of the key qualities that interviewers look for in potential interns.
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Nothing above is meant to provide financial or tax advice. You should meet with appropriate professionals for such services.