Internship. Internship. Internship.
By now you’ve had a hundred different things about internships drilled into your head. While it’s great that college internships are on your radar, the plan for landing one can start to feel confusing or overwhelming when so many voices, articles, and tips are spinning through your mind.
While there’s a lot that can be said about internships, the important things to focus on can be spelled out in just five minutes.
Understand Why Internships Matter
An internship might feel like some sort of prerequisite that you have to do whether or not you think it actually matters, but this is not the right mentality. It’s important to first understand that internships do matter to your future career. This thought will give you the right mindset for finding and thriving in one.
But don’t take my word for it, just look at the stats. College students who have an internship are 2x as likely to get a job after school. The only other factor that has that massive an impact on your marketability is finishing your program. Even if the internships you find are unpaid, and 40% of them are, remember they aren’t permanent. They are the stepping stone to the job and paychecks you want to be in for the next thirty years.
Then, there’s the fact that 75% of college students graduate with at least one internship. Imagine that you’ve graduated and are interviewing for your post-college dream job. You’re up against a handful of others with similar degrees and backgrounds, but they have internships and you don’t. It’s a hard truth, but employers are going to choose the other candidates in almost every case.
If it still feels like landing an internship is more of a requirement than a desire, think of it this way. Internships are there for you to learn what a potential career path is like. Sitting in a classroom can feel conceptual, and working on an imaginary company’s project in a lecture hall is very different from stepping into an office where real-world goals and profits are on the line. An internship will help you determine if you even like the work while you still have time to change your major. Plus, internships are an opportunity to prove yourself. They show potential employers that you can be reliable and professional in the real world.
What’s a Microinternship?
The idea of what an internship looks like has changed over the years. Today, many internships are going deeper than before. Rather than just delivering coffee and taking notes, students like you are being put on real business tasks and producing tangible deliverables.
As this type of real-world work experience evolves, the idea of microinternships is gaining ground. Like it sounds, a microinternship is similar to a normal internship but takes place in a shorter time frame than a full semester or summer. These are typically focused on one project that can take anywhere from five to 40 hours over a span of a few days to a few weeks.
Microinternships can change your entire idea of what’s possible. At least 150 colleges give credit after completing a certain number of microinternships, making them just as valuable as traditional internships in every respect. Think of them as a buffet of job experience; you can get a taste of many different types of career paths very quickly. The limited time frame also means that employers out there who aren’t hiring traditional interns will be more likely to consider a shorter, non-traditional arrangement.
How to Find an Internship
Getting into the right frame of mind and understanding the types of internships out there today is the majority of the battle when seeking an internship. Now, all you have to do is communicate your intentions to every single person you can.
Use every resource at your disposal. Talk to administrators, counselors, and instructors at your school. Speak to classmates, friends, and relatives. Pick the brain of anyone who might potentially know of an internship opportunity or connect you with a business and help you grow your professional network.
Get active on LinkedIn, and start reaching out to companies. Even if they aren’t advertising internships, it can’t hurt to ask. You may be able to create a microinternship with them or, at the very least, you’ll have made a new connection that could come in handy in the future.
Throughout it all, be strong and clear with your intent. Let these individuals know what you’re studying and where you’d like your early career to go. At the same time, be flexible and open to different ideas that might come up. It can feel intimidating to have these conversations, but doing so proves you have initiative and passion, and those are two of the most valuable traits in any job seeker.
The Internship Mantra
You might be reading this on campus, waiting for your next class to start, or you might be reading it two years after graduating while wondering how to change your career path. While internships are often associated with your time in college, they are just as valuable after you graduate. If you’re ever unsure what position to go after or need a spark in your job search, turn to that age-old mantra in your head: Internship. Internship. Internship.
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