Let’s face it, you need as much experience as you can get before your first paying job after campus. The best way to get that experience is through the power of the internship. The whole experience is highly rewarding. The truth, however, is that you won’t find it very easy to get a great position at a great company without putting in a lot of legwork from the get-go.
If you’re going to be successful in your internship, then you’re going to have to nail two things – make an effort to understand what potential employers are all about and manage your own expectations. Such knowledge as when to make your application, what kind of positions your skills are best for, and where to look for employment can prove crucial to your success. That said, there are a couple of things you should know before you ever go looking for your first internship.
Don’t be held back by your Age or Standing in College
About 17% of students finish their first internship while they are in high school that should let you know that your age or level of experience has nothing to do with your internship success. There is no time like the present when it comes to deeply engrossing yourself in the type of industry you would like to excel in eventually. You get a head start on your peers and you get to supplement all that theoretical stuff you learn in class with some practical experience.
Don’t forget the Early Bird Rule
When you take an internship, especially if that internship is going to be at a particularly large and popular company, you need to apply as early as you can. About a third of students will start their internship search at least 3 months before the due date. Companies that are particularly popular for internships also start their selection process very early. You should, therefore, take advantage of that and be in the first crop of applicants.
Pile up the Experience
Who said you have to do just one internship? More than half of students will do many internships before they graduate. It’s an awesome way to stay competitive by piling up on the experience and it also helps you increase your chances of securing a job by the time you leave school. At the very least, your networking, resume, and portfolio will benefit from the whole experience.
Your Network is your Friend
Can you think of anyone you already know that could help you get an internship? Over 60% of students actually use their personal network to get themselves internships. A third use their networks they’ve developed at their university. Don’t be shy about visiting the career centre at your school and reaching out to teaching staff to find out about opportunities.
Most Internships are Unpaid or Low Paying
As you search for available internship opportunities, remember that not all of them will be paid internships. Nearly 40% of companies don’t pay interns or pay interns less than minimum wage. Remember that you can get an unpaid or low paying internship and still keep a part-time job.
You may not have as much Flexibility as you think
If you’re looking for something that will allow you to work from your favourite coffee shop or from home, then you may be a little disappointed. Over 60 percent of companies do not allow their interns to work from either a coffee shop or their homes. It’s a little unfortunate if you’re used to being super flexible in college. If you really want flexibility, talk to your employer once you’re hired so you can work out some sort of arrangement.
Diversity may be an Issue
About 90 percent of companies aren’t that diverse in their hiring of interns. It’s, therefore, a good idea for you to put in a word about your background during the application and recruitment process. You can talk about it in your resume, cover letter, or during your interview. Employers want interns who bring in a fresh perspective on things to the company. However, they won’t know that you can do that unless you tell them.
The tips above should help you get your direction right as you begin your hunt for the perfect internship.