An internship is a great opportunity for college students to gain real life experience, learn new skills, develop their people skills, and build a resume that will make employers want to call for an interview. Studies by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) show college graduates that have served in an internship earn at least 6.5% more than those that don’t. Preparing to find the perfect internship is more than just looking around and applying, you need to take steps to be ready to find the best fit for your talents and expectations. Here are ten steps to prepare youfor the ideal internship opportunity.
1. Start looking early. Don’t wait until the last minute in the fall to look for internships. Ideally you should start looking as soon as the semester starts.
2. Review your resume and cover letter. Know both of them inside and out. Polish them both up and add any experience you may have gained over the summer or last semester. Many colleges have career centers which will help you craft a professional resume and cover letter. Take advantage of this service if you school offers it. You can also find sample resumes and cover letters on the internet you can tailor to your specific needs.
3. Touch base with your references. It is a good idea to check to make sure the information on your references is still current. Also let them know they may receive calls, and what type of internships you may be looking for so they will be able to give you useful references.
4. Practice your interviewing skills. Interviews can be stressful, and practice will help you relax and be confident. Enlist the help of a friend or visit the career center at your school to receive some coaching and valuable practice.
5. Put together a professional wardrobe. This doesn’t mean you have to go out and spend a lot of money. A few good quality neutral pieces will go a long way. Stick to traditional work wear. You can make your look your own with accessories, but remember in business less is often more.
6. Stick to the profession you are interested in. While a position as a fashion editor’s intern might sound like fun, it will do you no good if you’re major is in eningeering. Look for internships that will further your studies and future career.
7. Use your contacts. Networking and contacts can be invaluable sources to find out about little known and very interesting internship experiences. As you develop your contact and networking list your opportunities will also expand. Don’t be afraid to ask people for information.
8. Expand your horizons beyond the local market. Don’t limit yourself to your local area. If you plan on doing an internship during the summer, this is the perfect time to look at different locations to gain experience and find out what it is like to live in different parts of the country, and even the world. You can sublet an apartment during the summer and save money on housing.
9. Check out your web presence. More and more potential employers are looking up applicants on Google. Take some time and really comb through those Facebook pictures and remove any which don’t reflect the type of professional image you want to project. Remove anything you find on the internet that might be looked upon as immature, childish, or unprofessional.
10. Don’t give up. If you don’t get the first internship you apply for, don’t give up. Keep looking, keep applying, and keep knocking on doors. The right internship is out there for you, it just might take you a while to find it.
Internships are excellent opportunities to expand your knowledge and skill base. They will show future employers you have experience and are willing to learn. Use these tips to help you prepare for, and find, the ideal internship opportunity.
Gagan is working Chinese summer internship company TIC TWO where he works with interns, mentors and guides them through his company’s internship program.