Congratulations! By reading this chapter you are taking the necessary steps for achieving greater career and job-search success upon graduation from college. Internships are invaluable learning experiences for college students — and almost a necessity for any college graduate. Employers are demanding that college grads have “real world” experience, and internships are one of the best ways for college students to get that experience.
So how do you find your ideal internship? It’s a three-step process: Determine Your Internship Goals, Prepare/Polish Your Job Search Skills, and Find/Track Down Internship Sources.
Determine Your Internship Goals
Before you can even start thinking about finding an internship, you need to spend time reflecting on your goals for obtaining an internship. Consider these questions:
- What are your specific career interests? An internship is a great tool to help you define your career goals. For example, if you’re majoring in history, but have an eye on a political career, you might consider an internship with a local or state politician. Or, an internship can help further refine your career goals. For example, if you’re a marketing major but not sure whether you want to go into advertising or public relations, you should consider getting internships in both areas to help you decide which is best for you.
- Why do you want an internship — and what do you hope to gain from it? There are multiple reasons for obtaining an internship, including answering the question above. Other possible reasons include learning new skills, gaining networking connections, adding work experience to your resume, and as an entry point that you hope leads to a full-time position with the employer when you graduate.
- What type of organization are you interested in? Organizations come in all sizes and shapes, from Fortune 500 companies to not-for-profit organizations. What are you looking for? Issues to consider include size, ownership, corporate culture, etc.
- What industry would be best for your needs? Even when you know exactly what you want to do, you can still be uncertain about the type of industry that best suits you. For example, if you are a natural-born salesperson, you really have the option of working in any industry, but pharmaceutical sales is quite different from selling insurance.