You’re in classes, working hard to make good grades, and maintaining a social life. If you are like me, me, then you’re also working to pay for those classes and social activities. You’ve made it to your Junior year, and now it’s time to start thinking about your future after college, and the best way to get there. Enter: the internship. If you haven’t started thinking about interning, you may want to begin. Even if your program of study doesn’t require an internship, it is still a great opportunity to build your professional skill set and fluff up your resume. We all know that most employers want a couple years of experience right out of college. As unfair as it may seem, we’ve all been working towards our degrees, so your best move is to make your resume as competitive as possible. And it’s never too soon to start.
Look at interning as a positive experience. If you love where you work and want to stay, network as much as possible. Make yourself invaluable so they ask you to join the team. If you hate it, you’ve just narrowed down your career choice.
Start thinking about the types of things you enjoy doing, and would want to do when you graduate. Now start looking at places that offer those opportunities. I would say, it’s really best to start looking at internships about a year in advance. Unless you have a connection, most places require applications a semester before the internship starts. You can apply for multiple internships, and choose the one that is best for you.
Some internships may be paid, and that’s awesome. But most internships are not. For that reason, you want to make sure it is a good fit for you. If you’re only working to gain experience, and not money, that experience better be incredibly valuable. If you find yourself responsible for coffee runs and not much else, it may be a waste of your time.
Think outside the box. You don’t have to stay in Jacksonville. Have family out of state? Search for internships in those cities and talk to your family about living with them for a semester while you work. Some of the more competitive internships do offer housing vouchers and stipends, so keep an eye on those in big cities like New York, L.A. and Washington D.C.
More than anything, internships are about making connections and gaining experience. It’s about you as a student, and making the most of your time before graduation. Your professors are a great resource when it comes to finding internships, so just reach out if you’re having trouble.
Your internship is not the end-all and be-all of your professional career, just think of it as a practice run and you’ll do great.
Photo credit: Alpha Stock Images – http://alphastockimages.com/