Summer is right around the corner, and although many students have a break from their coursework, career preparation is still at the forefront of their minds. Based on a study by Millennial Branding and Experience Inc., 91 percent of employers recommend having at least one or two internships under your belt before you graduate from college. This can be tough, not to mention expensive, as many internships these days are unpaid. However, when it comes time to search for a career, internship experience is an extremely valuable asset.
So, knowing that an overwhelming amount of employers expect applicants to have held multiple internships, how do students make this happen? Nick Valadez, a clinician at Southeast Psych, recommends using the following tips from TIME magazine’s article “7 Ways to Get the Most Out of an Internship”:
- Find an internship that aligns with your interests and professional goals. You may want to start by going to your campus’s career center or visiting websites like internqueen.com, internships.com, or MonsterCollege.
- Ask questions during an interview. You want to be sure that a prospective employer has a clear vision of what the internship will be like.
- “Read the fine print” about unpaid internships. Unpaid interns should never be doing anything that directly influences the revenue of a business. So, look closely at the job responsibilities to make sure that this is not the case.
- Seek out a mentor. Some internships will have mentor programs already established; however, try to connect with someone at the company who may be a good resource for you as you continue to build your career.
- Reflect on your internship at the halfway point. Ask yourself whether you are getting what you want out of the internship. If not, think about further projects or responsibilities that you could ask to be a part of for the remainder of your time at the company.
- Ask for advice about jobs. Before the internship is over, sit down with your coordinator or mentor and ask them for advice about seeking jobs. Maintaining your connections even after you leave the internship is essential.
- Send a thank-you e-mail and a handwritten note. Even though e-mail is widely accepted in today’s society, sending something handwritten shows that you are detail-oriented. Also, this may set you apart from other interns and job-seekers.
For more information, check out “All Work, No Pay” by Lauren Berger, who provided advice for the TIME magazine article. Remember, if you do make the most of your internship opportunities, it can pave the way towards a successful career in the future!
Nick Valadez serves individuals, couples, and families with a wide variety of concerns. His areas of concentration include marital difficulties, divorce, parenting and family issues, cancer, grief, death, mood disorders, and secondary stress/vicarious trauma among caregivers and leaders. Stay connected by visiting Southeast Psych’s Facebook page and following @SoutheastPsych on Twitter.