If you’ve been encouraged to look for an internship before your college career is over, take it as smart advice. An internship is one of the best ways to gain real-world experience. Not only will this help you strengthen your résumé and build professional skills, but an internship also has numerous other benefits:
- You can try out a field before you fully commit to starting your career. Some students pursue internships every summer to try out different types of companies and jobs. This is a great way to get a feel for the type of work environment and industry that suits you best. After all, wouldn’t you rather know a little about your future profession before you dive into it? An internship offers that opportunity.
- You can build your network of professionals in your future field. In college, your professional network might be limited. An internship is a valuable chance to get to know peers (other interns) who are also beginning their careers, establish mentor relationships, and learn from seasoned professionals.
- You might be able to get a foot in the door of a company. Many employers use college internship programs to recruit entry-level candidates before their graduation. It’s a way for them to give you a trial period and teach you more about their company. If you impress the employer, it could lead to an offer for full-time employment later.
- You’ll walk away with an experience to share with future employers. Even if an internship doesn’t result in a full-time job offer, you can gain so much from the experience. Some students even develop summary portfolios after internships to share with employers as they near graduation and begin applying to full-time jobs. Think of the internship as a chance to learn and showcase your skills.
So, how can you find an internship? Here are a few suggestions:
Create a standout résumé.
First and foremost, create a strong résumé that shares your very best assets, educational background, and professional experience, and clearly communicates your career goals. At Front Range, the career services team and other programs run frequent workshops to help students develop great résumés. Contact the FRCC career services office at your campus for more information about creating a résumé.
Create a LinkedIn profile.
These days, most companies turn to LinkedIn to see whether prospective employees (and, yes, college students) have professional profiles. Create a LinkedIn profile with a professional photo. Ask for recommendations from professors or other mentors, if you’re comfortable. This is an excellent way for companies to get to know your skills and personality a bit beyond the paper résumé.
Visit the career center.
Pay a visit to your college career center, which likely has relationships with many employers and can help you identify internships for which you’ll be a fit and apply to them. FRCC students: stop by the career services office at your campus to learn about internships and check out open opportunities.
Google companies that interest you to see whether they offer internships. Also check out reputable internship sites such as internships.com and looksharp.com, which are designed specifically to help college students and recent graduates find positions all around the country.
Network, network, network.
Even if your professional network is still growing, ask around about internships. Teachers are a great resource and a wealth of ideas, but so are family friends, your fellow students, and people in your community. If you’re serious about finding an internship, don’t be afraid to reach out to people sharing that intent.
Approach companies directly.
Some companies might be interested in interns, even if they don’t have openings posted on their website. If you have companies in mind, consider approaching them directly. This doesn’t mean submitting a form on a company’s website. Do a little homework to see whether the company has a Careers web page or an email address for its recruiting team. Prepare a personalized, well-written cover letter that explains your interest in the company and send it along with your résumé to the attention of human resources. Share the skills that you have to offer and the type of position that interests you and why.
An internship is an opportunity to gain experience, apply what you’re learning in college while you’re learning it, figure out what you like and what you don’t, and give yourself a leg up before you apply for full-time jobs. No matter what, having an internship under your belt when you graduate will benefit you in the short and long run.