Looking for a college internship takes time and work. But there’s no doubt it’s worth the trouble.
Internships usually aren’t as difficult to land as a full-time job after graduating. But they’ll pay off – far more than getting an “A” in your most critical subject.
Sure you’ll have to some of the grunt work no one else wants to do. And you won’t get paid as much as everyone else.
But there are numerous benefits to spending your summer working for low pay in a job where you’re at the bottom of the ladder.
Internships offer students or recent graduates the chance to:
- Gain useful experience. You’ll learn about the business word as soon as you start interviewing. Once you’re in the door, the learning experience will be invaluable.
- Build your resume. Real-world experience will make managers and recruiters notice you.
- Test out the field. Students who aren’t sure what they want to do can try out a position to find out if it’s the right fit – without making a commitment.
- Set up your future. Many companies use interns to test out whether they’ll make good full-time employees. Think of it as a trial run. If you make an impression, you could have a job lined up when you graduate.
- Make contacts. Even if you don’t get hired, internships will make job hunting a little less painful. We’ve all heard “it’s not what you know – it’s who you know.” Meeting people in the industry or field is a great way to find leads for full-time jobs.
- Collect references. It’s good to have a variety of references. And one from someone you worked for at an internship will pull some weight.
Keep in mind, not all internships are the same. Instead of focusing on large companies, consider smaller ones, too. You’ll be more likely to have the opportunity to contribute, instead of bringing people coffee.
When looking for an internship, ask questions during the interview to make sure it’s going to be worthwhile. Don’t be shy about asking questions – it’s better to show you care about the work, and not just about what you’ll get paid.
When considering internships, look for the ability to:
- Work with an experienced mentor. You’ll need someone who will be available to show you the ropes and answer your questions.
- Contribute in a real way to the business. Will you be trusted enough to talk to customers or produce material that will be used? If not, you won’t get a true idea of what it’s like working in the industry.
- See the bigger picture. Look for the opportunity to attend meetings with your mentor or to be included on project emails. You don’t want to get stuck working in a bubble (or cubicle) without seeing what your work will do for the company or clients.
- Earn a grade. If you show up every day, do a decent job and don’t complain, chances are they’ll give you an “A.”
Maureen Gorman has more than 10 years of business writing experience and currently serves as Editor of two b2b newsletters for Progressive Business Publications: Communication Bulletin for Managers and Supervisors and The Nonprofit Board Report. Learn more about PBP and their internship program by visiting Progressive Business Publications Internships.