It’s often said that next to your major in college, the single most important factor for your later employability is your internship experience.
Fortunately these two things go together more often than not – Your courses and concentration helps determine the best internship and the internship furthers your studies and hones your future career direction.
Finding Your Dream Internship
In light of the fact that recent research shows about half of college graduates are underemployed or straight-up unemployed and about 70% of companies with 100 or more employees end up offering full-time positions to one-time interns, finding your dream internship starts with being tenacious and throwing your hat in the ring.
You already know that the companies worth working for are taking year-round intern help and that you stand a very good chance of increasing your post-graduation employment prospects by hopping onboard with an internship.
Going about getting your dream internship might prove a challenge, though, until you rack up the necessary experience, learn how to butter up your resume to stand out from the pack, and streamline your interviewee skills to make a serious impression.
Racking Up Experience
That sounds easy…but wait…where do you get experience from anyway? Is it something that just falls out of the sky right into your lap? Maybe clicking your heels three times?
In fact, you get experience from joining clubs and organizations in your field of study and by making connections among other students to scout out the hottest internship opportunities.
It can be a bit of a paradox at first – getting experience to get experience. The idea of preparing for an internship so that an internship can “prepare” you for life in the “real world” is a hard thing for some students to grasp, but the ones that do end up grabbing the most coveted spots on the internship circuit.
Associations, Clubs and Volunteering
If you want to stay competitive, then you should really be looking into national associations as well as clubs, organizations and even volunteer opportunities in your community.
These all can make the difference, especially if you’re in a dead heat with another applicant, because it says that you’re serious about your upcoming internship and you’ve put in the time. Speaking of time, it also indicates that you have good time management while doing wonders for your resume.
Polishing the Ol’ Resume
There’s a fallacy out there that there’s one uber resume – ONE resume to rule them all, if you will – that will get you an interview at any internship. A kind of gold-plated resume that’s indestructible to rejection from any future employer.
Yeah, that actually doesn’t exist.
What does exist, though, and what’s in your control is creating a resume that’s calibrated to what the gatekeepers behind your dream internship are looking for. Pay attention to what kinds of experiences that matter most as well as skills that they’re looking for in candidates. In all likelihood, you’ll have to tailor your resume to each opportunity you apply for. One size most certainly does not fit all.
Also ask around to find out if there are any prerequisite courses that can improve your chances and see if you can spot common attributes in people who’ve already been taken on at that company.
Hone Your Interviewee Skills
You might even want to practice with someone to get this down (check with your career office – some offer mock interviews to help you prepare). Be prepared to do some research on the company you’re interested in and show your enthusiasm for the internship that you’re applying for. Make it clear that you want this internship and definitely bring your own questions to ask at the end – that shows real initiative!