Milking Your Internship
Use an internship to gain insight into the industry of your
choice while garnering ever-important work experience.
You may feel like a student, but you are expected to act like a
If you're entering the workforce for the first time, or
switching to a new industry, you are likely to encounter the
ultimate catch-22 of the working world: to land a job, you must
have previous work experience, but work experience comes from
This would be frustrating if it weren't for the growing
availability of internships in almost every industry. Summer,
semester, or part-time internships can give you the work
experience that companies want and, at the same time, offer
an exclusive preview of your field of choice.
Steer Your Career Decision
An internship is one of the most practical steps you can take
in your career search. It offers you the opportunity to weigh
what you like and don't like about a company or an industry,
supplement your resume, make industry contacts, and develop
professional skills. In short, it can help steer your career
decision and give you an idea of what life on the job will be
Following are some tips to help you get the most from you
Approach your internship as you would a real job, beginning
with the application process: submit a polished resume,
prepare for your interview, and dress appropriately. You
may feel like a student, but you are expected to act like a
Once you're on the job, keep your eyes and ears open. You
will learn the most about the company and the industry
simply by paying attention and being inquisitive.
Don't be surprised if you are asked to do some filing or
faxing; after all, you are the ultimate underling. No
matter what your duties, work diligently and maintain a
positive attitude. Remember that part of the learning
experience is absorbing what's going on around you.
Assess the skills you will need to land a first job in this
field, and make professional contacts that can help you
find that job.
Many employers use internships to screen potential
employees. If there is an available position at your level,
and if your supervisor feels a good fit, she is likely to
hire you over someone who isn't familiar with the company
or vice versa.
If the only thing you learn from your internship is that
you don't like the field you have chosen, that's valuable
information too. Be critical of what you dislike, and apply
that knowledge to your job search.
Once the internship is over, pump it for all it's worth.
Evaluate what you learned from working in a professional
environment and add it to your resume. Even if you spent
time filing, don't underestimate the skills that are
required to be a useful member of any professional team,
such as effective verbal communications, business writing,
computer knowledge, and learning and interpersonal skills.
Consult your campus career center for more information on
finding an internship, and inquire whether your school
rewards academic credit for an internship. If you have a
company in mind already, call the Human Resources department
to get the details of its internship program.
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