If you’re in college, the #1 best way to full-time employment after you graduate is to intern while you’re in school.
An internship is where a company hires students for a specific time period in order to allow the student to gain some experience while they are still in school. Most of the time the internship lasts for the 3 months students are on break during the summer months of June, July, and August. But there are companies who will keep interns on during the school year as well on a reduced work schedule.
Some companies have formal intern programs where they provide lots of activities for the intern. They might provide an internal job fair to allow students to get an idea of the different areas in a company. Some companies provide brown-bag lunches with managers so students can ask questions about how the company operates, what the managers’ jobs are, and how they got to be a manager.
Internships allow you to meet fellow students from around the country and even the world as many companies will hire foreign students as interns, too. This will give you an opportunity to grow your network. As you progress in your career, your network will always be the best way to find your next job.
How do you find an internship?
There are a few ways you can find an internship:
- Career fairs at your school – Most colleges and universities start holding career fairs in the fall. Many companies attend these fairs looking for interns to hire for the next summer season. Be sure to attend as many of the career fairs as you can and talk to as many companies attending the career fairs. Do some homework ahead of time to get an idea of the companies in attendance because some career fairs at larger universities have hundreds of companies attend. In this case, you won’t be able to talk to all the companies, so you’ll want to have your list ready for the companies you want to speak with.
- Company websites – Companies will normally post their internship positions on their websites. If you have specific companies in mind where you would like to work, be sure to keep an eye on their website starting in August. That’s when companies will start posting their internships. If you don’t know what companies are in the area where you’re going to school, visit the career center on campus for them to help you find out. You can also conduct a simple internet search by typing in ‘list of industries in (city name)’ in your favorite search engine.
- Internet search for intern jobs – Just as if you were searching the internet for an accounting job, let’s say, you can conduct a search for intern jobs. Many of the job boards will pick up intern jobs from company websites so all you really need to do is type in ‘internships in (city name)’ in your favorite search engine.
When you get called for an interview, don’t forget you need to interview the company, too. Students travel all over the country for internships and there’s nothing worse than ending up in a really bad work situation.
Following are some questions you need to ask your future employer:
- Is the internship paid?
- How many hours a week?
- Do you pay for housing?
- Is there public transportation in the area?
- How much travel is involved? Where is the travel to?
- What is the job that I will be doing?
- Will there be other interns at the company?
- When does the job start?
- When does the job end?
- Is there a possibility of full-time employment after the internship?
Entry level jobs after college are extremely competitive. When I’ve recruited for these types of jobs hiring managers will always give preference to graduates that worked at internships during school.
One final note. Check with your career office at your school because some universities will give credit for working at an internship.