March 12, 2022
An internship requirement in college may seem like yet another unnecessary hurdle to jump through to graduate, but they are essential. Securing a quality internship strengthens your skillset, boosts your resume, provides professional references, fosters connections, and offers clarity about your career path.
If you are planning to find employment this summer, think specifically about your career path and what opportunities you might want to explore — marketing internships, accounting internships, data science internships, finance, public health, human resources — there are opportunities for every discipline.
Research shows that, internships for college students (and graduates!) are a gateway to future careers. A 2021 Survey showed that nearly half of employers say they are much more likely to consider hiring candidates who have had an internship experience for full-time positions; and only 60% believe college graduates possess the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in entry level positions. So, despite the situation caused by the pandemic, it remains vitally important to seek out internships to position oneself for potential entry-level employment, to build and demonstrate the skills employers seek. This experience allows for a more seamless career transition into finding a full-time job after graduation.
With hard work, it is not uncommon for internships to blossom into full time positions with the same organization. Many employers look to retain their best interns for hire after graduation. If the company cannot offer an open position, employers may help valued past interns find work in their field, leveraging their personal networks.
Finding a high-quality internship that is relevant to your dream career can feel daunting. There are many ways to search for internships for college students. Use multiple resources to increase your odds of success. Utilize web platforms, college career centers, your professional network, and job fairs. Dig in and start looking at the internships posted on sites such as the Job Search feature on LinkedIn and BuiltIn.com, which focuses on start-up internships, to get a sense of the types of roles and employers seeking summer talent. Build off that research and seek out similar companies in the location where you will be living this summer.
Another factor to help you get an internship is to leverage your network. You may not realize it, but you have a ready-made network already. Ask around! Maybe your professors, friends, or family members know someone who has been searching for in intern with your exact skillset.
Congrats! If you were asked to do an interview, that means your potential employer liked what they saw on your resume and cover letter. Interviews give you a chance not only to make a good impression, but to get to know your employer and their company a bit better. This is the time to sell yourself.
Thoroughly research the company and their values. What can you contribute that they can’t do without? How do the goals and values of the company relate to your personal values, and skill-building and career goals? A deep knowledge of the firm demonstrates that the candidate has invested time in learning about their potential new employer. This showcases a respect for the recruiters and interviewers. Going to an interview well prepared not only increases your odds for success but also does wonders to calm any jitters.
This event-based preparation will also help you generate meaningful questions for the interviewers. Differentiate yourself by asking timely questions that are unique to the organization and that will stimulate a discussion, versus general questions that will only solicit a quick answer from the interviewer.
To get an internship you need to develop strong answers to commonly asked interview questions. These five questions are crucial for both those seeking internships for college students and later when finding a full-time job after graduation:
Tell me about yourself.
Why are you interested in this company/position?
Tell me about a time you made a mistake.
Do you prefer working independently or as a team?
Tell me about a time you took a leadership role.
PROFESSIONAL GUIDANCE SETS YOU UP FOR SUCCESS
At Priority Candidates, our coaches spend significant time promoting this concept of preparedness. Using a series of detailed question sets, we help you prepare responses and practice methods of delivery so you build the confidence to clearly present your skills and experience.
An outreach campaign to let others know you can offer help in areas they need, can be effective. If you’re going to be reaching out to an individual or organization, you’ll need to prepare a pitch. Your pitch might include your resume and a cover note that explains very specifically how you might help an organization. For example, if you are seeking a marketing internship, you might offer to do competitor research, perform mystery-shopping studies, or develop a pricing analysis. Seeking a data science internship? Offer to design operational dashboards or summarize historical data about the organization’s performance over time and locations. Similarly, for a computer science internship, offer to help prepare a database design proposal, or build a new database for a group that is leveraging basic spreadsheets to manage a process.
Occasionally, a nontraditional internship can be more fitting to a student’s career goals. This is typically seen in industries that rely on freelancers, or this can become a viable alternative when a traditional internship cannot be secured. Before working for yourself make sure that you have strong organizational and networking skills. Advertise your services on online job boards, social media, and by word of mouth. Remember that many clients will be looking for a rate that matches your level of experience. Tip: Check out upwork.com or Idealist.org to see if any organizations need your unique skills for internship project work. If you are designing your own experience, ensure you are building and integrating skills that employers are seeking and will strengthen your resume.
At Priority Candidates, we see the tremendous value that internship experiences create for future job searches, which can help launch careers following graduation. By effectively leveraging your available time this summer – even when traditional avenues aren’t available – you can build the skills that will eventually help you get hired.