By now, most students realize the importance of an internship. Whether it’s a college requirement or a choice of your own, internships can help even the savviest student develop their professional skill-set and gain the experience needed to land a full-time job. See our tips below to differentiate yourself from the crowd and excel from start to finish.
When Searching for that “Perfect Internship”
Always choose experience over money. As you read this, you are probably shaking your head thinking, “How can I take an unpaid internship and still have spending money?” Regardless of the pay, the purpose of the internship is to provide you with experience. If you shy away from unpaid or lower wage internships you could be missing out on an opportunity that could help you grow professionally and personally.
Use the connections and resources you have available. Your professors, family and friends want to help you succeed. Reach out to your network and inquire about internship openings or even if you can use them as a reference to attest to your work ethic. Also, take time to speak with your career services department. Not only can they help you tailor your resume, but they can direct you to your school’s online job resources and possibly introduce you to recruiters from companies you are interested in interning with.
Take advantage of online resources. Almost all employers have a career page on their website that links directly to open positions with their company. However, if you are unsure of a company that you’d like to work for, visit sites like <a href=”http://internships.jobs” target=”_blank”>Internships.jobs; that provide you with vetted and reliable internship opportunities from companies around the nation.
During Your Interview
Take time to showcase your personal brand. An interview is all about selling yourself and your skills to an interviewer. Use this opportunity to show how and why you’d be well suited for the position. Your interviewer will be listening for not only your skills, but to see if your personality would be well matched with the company’s culture.
Engage and connect with your interviewer. You want your interviewer to connect with you during conversation and remember you afterwards, bottom line. Turn your interview into a conversation, not a back-to-back round of question, answer, question, answer. By turning your interview into a conversation you are actively engaging your interviewer and providing he/she with meaningful points to remember about you.
Ask Questions. At the end of every interview, you have the opportunity to ask your interviewer questions. This is the part of the interview that allows you to see if this company would be a good fit for you. Make sure to have meaningful and unique questions prepared. Ask questions like, “What made you choose a career with this company? What is the culture of this company? Why do you enjoy your job?”
For the Duration of Your Internship
Ask questions— a lot of them. Rule number one of any internship: never be afraid to ask questions. You are there to learn after all, and if you don’t understand something, just ask. Your employer doesn’t expect you to know how to do everything. So if you encounter a task that is unfamiliar to you, ask questions.
Tackle your tasks with positivity and enthusiasm. Let’s face it, not every task you are given at work is going to be fun. While you may be given some “go-fer” tasks, exhibit the same amount of professionalism for small and large projects. You never know when you could receive a full-time job offer after all.
Get to Know the Industry. Jump on every opportunity available to learn more about the industry you are working in. Attend meetings, conferences and events with your team. After your internship is completed, you may not stay in the industry, but you will have done your best to educate yourself on the inner workings and may meet some great people to add to your network along the way.
Make Mistakes. While you may not want to make mistakes, you are going to. It’s human nature. At the end of the day, it’s how you learn and move forward. If you make a mistake, take ownership for your actions and your employer will appreciate your honesty and willingness to fix your mistakes.
Network and get to know fellow interns and full-timers. One of the biggest components of a job search is your network. Have you heard the phrase, “It’s all about who you know”? When job searching, that couldn’t be more correct. Build a professional relationship with full-time employees and your fellow interns. The people around you are a great source for job advice and tips that may help you land your next job.
Follow the tips above to increase your chances for success at a great internship experience. Keep in mind, even though you are there to work, you need to have fun along the way. After all, your internship may ultimately lead you to a career that you love!