THIS BLOG COMES TO YOU IN TWO PARTS, CHECK BACK ON THURSDAY, MAY 6TH, FOR THE CONCLUSION!
Somewhere in between cramming for finals and moving out of their dorms for the summer, college students find the time to search for a summer internship. As a former multiple-time intern and a current intern coordinator, I thought it might be a good idea to make this post two-fold: 1st part for potential interns and 2nd part for potential organizations looking to recruit interns.
Whether your interest is invested in the legality of paid vs. unpaid internships for your company, or the summer’s approaching and you’re a student in need of some experience, keep reading…
It’s no secret that internships are on the rise: according to a national 2006 study, 84 percent of college students at four-year institutions had completed at least one internship before graduation. Whether its’ evolving college requirements, post-grads looking to gain an extra edge on the competition, or simply the market’s lack of available entry level jobs, internships are becoming more competitive and more important for both students and organizations.
Part I: The Quest for the Summer Internship
First and foremost, whether your school requires it or not, you need at least one internship prior to graduation…but as with most things in life, the more the merrier. Just recently, I’ve interviewed two candidates from the same schools, with the same classes and the same clubs…but the differentiator was their prior internship experience. As a (kind of) recent college grad, I speak from experience that it’s a tough world out there, and any edge you can get will help you land a job (and thus help you pay off all of those student loans). So, now that you know why you need an internship, let us learn how you attain the internship.
First off, if your school requires an internship make sure you know all of the details surrounding it. How many hours? Do you need to keep a journal? Interview directors? Create a portfolio? How many credits will you get? All of these details are good to know for yourself and for the company you’re interviewing at. Once you’ve got the background down, start searching. I began my search by looking at companies I would potentially like to work for or admired. Depending on their career sites, many even had their own section devoted to all things interns.
Not sure where you see yourself? Check your student email accounts for internship suggestions from your schools’ job placement center or department heads. Job boards are another great outlet…and there’s even some niche ones for interns and entry-level professionals like InternWeb and Career Rookie. And, who could forget social media? I always use “#intern” when posting opportunities on our twitter page. So now, search some hash tags and let the internship hunt begin.
When you eventually land the internship interview at your dream company, come prepared. Internships are competitive!! Just because you are interviewing somewhere does not mean you’ll automatically be selected. Internships are meant to benefit the student – which means LOTS of time spent with current employees teaching and mentoring the newbies. Before you’re brought on board and share valuable company time, an organization wants to make sure you’ll be a good fit for the position. Here are a couple of quick interview tips:
- Bring your resume or portfolio and, if possible, make copies. If you’re meeting with multiple employees, you don’t want them squinting over a single copy of your 12-point font resume.
- Do your research!! It’s always impressive when an intern knows about your company and then references recent news or blog posts about the company. It shows you care and are a quick learner who pays attention to details.
- Practice, Practice, Practice. If this is your first interview take the time to have a couple of practice run throughs with a friend. There are TONS of sample questions on the internet and you’re bound to be asked one of them. What’s your greatest accomplishment? Describe a time you overcame an obstacle? If I were to ask your professors to describe you, what would they say? Don’t make these questions any more awkward then they have to be… have some answers prepared. And hey, if you think these questions are bad, how much does a 747 weigh?
- Keep eye contact with your interviewer. Like I said, don’t make this any more awkward then it has to be by looking at the floor or the ceiling or both.
- Follow up with a thank-you after the interview. Nothing makes you more memorable post-interview then when you remind us that you interviewed. A simple email will do it.
Once you’ve got the perfect internship, take advantage of it! Here at iCIMS, we’ve had an amazing number of interns turned employees. When you go the extra mile, you get noticed. And hey, even if your internship doesn’t turn into a job at that specific company, you now have real world experience. Remember those awkward interview questions? Now you have some substance to back them up! Looking for an example of someone who did it all right? I think her title says it all: Intern Queen Lauren Berger and the news of her 15 completed internships across her 4 years of college, is all over social media outlets. After starting her own Intern company, the Queen now educates others through her college tours and conferences. Oh hey, speaking of which, iCIMS is hiring interns!! Sales, Marketing, Customer Support – you name it! Take a look here for a list of our available internships.
For Part II, click here!