Today, internships are not only crucial for students before graduating from college, they may be some of the only entry-level opportunities available for graduates as well. Employers are looking for experience to know that they can trust you with the job at hand. Of course, many graduates are finding that even entry-level jobs are requiring that there be some experience in the field. This is why internships are more and more important for students as they prepare to make the leap from education to the workforce. When it comes to choosing the right opportunity, there are many factors applicants should consider.
Get Specifics on the Position
When accepting an internship, it’s important to know exactly what to expect from it, not just in terms of your day to day tasks, but also in regard to the skills you’ll walk away with. Don’t be so blown away by the opportunity to intern at a Fortune 500 company that you agree to do three months of data entry, while an internship at a smaller company will mean you both enjoy your days more and learn better, more marketable skills. When it comes time to tell a potential employer about your internship, that big name may be less impressive than useful and applicable experience.
Research the Company
Whether you’re applying to intern at your city controller office, in a big company’s marketing department, or as a small business’ new assistant web programmer, you need to know who you’re working for and what it is the organization or company does. Don’t walk into an interview without knowing what the company does and how you might fit into the equation. That way, you don’t end up wasting your time or your interviewers’ when the opportunity isn’t a fit—and if they have targeted questions, you’ll be able to answer them. This shows that you’ve taken the time to properly research and understand the company and know how you will be able to bring value if they brought you on.
Remember the Purpose of Internships
Even if your internship is paid, it’s important to evaluate how much you need to make, or how little you can afford to work for. Depending on your position and future goals, the networking and connections which emerge from the internship may be more valuable than the small stipend. If you’re getting college credit on top of both those things, so much the better. Internships often mean putting in a lot of work for not a lot a pay, but they’re designed to provide the experience necessary to jumpstart your career when you’re ready to leave the books behind and put your education to the test. That being said, eachy internship comes with its grunt work. Especially for those seeking internships who have already graduated, it’s important to approach the job with humility and gratitude, not a chip on your shoulder. Try to find ways to show initiative and add value with your presence even while performing the smallest, and seemingly most menial of tasks.
Choosing the right internship means acquiring valuable skills and connections that will form the foundation of your career. Don’t forget you can always rely on your Alpha Kappa Psi network for connections and advice!