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Gaining Experience With Unique Internships

By Caitlin Green

Getting an internship is key to landing that first job. But there are internships, and then there are internships.


Garmin International, Inc.

-- Produces navigation and communication devices.
-- Location: Kansas, Arizona, California, Canada.
-- Global workforce of 8,000 employees in 2007.
 -- "We don't just design and sell products, we embrace the lifestyles. And we're always thinking of ways to adapt and improve."

Starwood Hotels
-- One of the world's largest hotel and leisure companies.
-- Location: Nationwide.
-- Starwood Preferred Guest Program voted Program of the Year for the 6th year in a row in 2005 during the 17th Annual Freddie Awards.
-- "We succeed only when we meet and exceed the expectations of our customers."

The National Football League, NFL
-- One of the world's premier entertainment brands.
-- Offer employment opportunities within the league.
-- 32 teams within the league.
-- "The NFL staff has been a fundamental part of the league's success and will continue to play a key role in our continued growth and progress."


Recent and soon-to-be college graduates often encounter a catch-22 when looking for jobs. Most jobs, even entry-level, require prior work experience. The paradox: how do college students get work experience if every job requires prior experience? The solution is simple: through internships. Internships allow you to gain valuable work experience which can help you get that future job. But what many people don't know is that some internship programs come with additional opportunities.

The National Football League offers one such internship program with extras. The NFL, as it's known to most, is a conglomerate that enjoys cultivating its interns. The company hires interns for its two-month formal summer program. These highly-sought-after internships, located in New York City, usually garner nearly 1,000 applicants to fill a mere 14 positions. NFL Summer Internship Program participants have the opportunity to contribute to the organization's success while receiving an unmatched, behind-the-scenes learning experience. Students from all majors who are entering their senior year are welcome to apply, which generates a diverse, highly-motivated group of interns.

The application process is highly competitive, but the internships offer a stipend and are the "foot-in-the-door" for the league's Blue Chip Rotational Program. This three-year program is a series of rotational work assignments, which provide participants with an opportunity to contribute to the organization's success while receiving an unparalleled learning experience. During each rotation, participants are placed in a department for 6 to 12 months with project-based assignments.

What makes this internship so distinct is the vast array of "benefits" that come from working for such a prominent organization. Not only is the summer program paid, but the opportunity for networking is tremendous. Though interns work within specific departments, they are able to explore all aspects of the business through speaker presentations, mentoring relationships and networking opportunities. Most importantly, the NFL views its Internship Program as "a pipeline and training ground for full-time hires," making the National Football League an internship experience of a lifetime.

But if Monday night football isn't your thing, there are other great possibilities.

Students interested in engineering may pursue the exclusive internships at Garmin International, Inc. With locations in Kansas, Arizona, California, and Canada, Garmin provides a unique internship for students interested in design, software, or mechanical engineering. The competition for these coveted positions is fierce; the company will receive at least 800 to 1,000 applications in 2008 and hire 1 out of every 10 applicants for the summer program.

Garmin looks for computer science or engineering majors interested in a hands-on experience working with full-time engineers. What makes these internships so exceptional is the great long-term opportunity that exists with Garmin. Not only do they pay well, including housing and other benefits, but Garmin International views its internships as pipelines for full-time hires with an estimated 90 percent of interns gaining full-time positions this year.  
In the hospitality field, Starwood Hotels & Resorts offer winter externships and summer internships. These programs receive more than 1400 applications from all majors, but only about 20% of those are hired. The company aims to give the student "a real world work experience" by allowing them to participate in full job duties that other internships may not offer.

The internships are paid, but best of all, provide an in-depth feeling for what being a hotel manager is all about at Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Ultimately, Starwood Hotels & Resorts believes the undergraduate experience helps them develop relationships and stay connected with hotel professionals.

Regardless of the area of interest, several opportunities exist to engage in rewarding internships. These three companies are just a few of the prospects that exist in the internship world that provide insight, experience, connections and benefits in the incessantly changing career landscape.  

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