Internships are an important way for job seekers to gain experience, build successes and get a foot in the door at a company or in an industry. In a earlier post we detailed how job seekers are using internships. Once you’ve decided an internship is right for you, how do you find one and plan to make the most of it?
Internships are uncovered in much the same way as job openings:
- Network. Let everyone know you are looking. Reach out to contacts and if they know of internships. Talk with college professors, those you know in your industry, anyone with a potential connection.
- Internship posting services. There are specific message boards where internships are offered. Two popular websites are InternMatch.com and InternQueen.com. Look at LinkedIn groups within your industry for listings and discussions of internships.
- College career center. Internships are often posted at college career centers. Call or visit and find out if there is a website you can check regularly for listings.
Craft your own
Some of the best internships come from approaching companies with a proposal to intern. For example, let’s say you want to make a career transition into technical writing. Go to small tech firms and ask if you can intern, writing under a more experienced writer.
When you make your request, be clear about your goals and bring out what you have to offer. Even though you might think that it is a no-brainer for companies to accept your help, the reality is that companies have to spend time and energy to train and manage interns. Help the company see that the advantage of having you there will outweigh the time and energy they will spend on you.
You may approach companies where you think you’ll get the necessary experience. You may also approach companies you are interested in working at long term. Internships are often a great foot in the door. If you’re uncertain about a new career direction, you may approach a company in your new area and let them know you want to learn more about what it’s like to work in that field.
While large companies often have very specific intern programs and processes to apply, mid-size and smaller companies often do not. They may not have used an intern in the past or even considered it. So offering yourself as an intern may be well received.
Make it Count!
As you evaluate opportunities to intern, be sure to craft the experience so you get the most value possible from it:
- Be clear about your goals such as gaining resume experience, making
a career transition or trying out a new job or industry.
- Ask the company what their goals and expectations are for the internship. The best situation is when yours and theirs are aligned.
- Be sure you will actually be doing hands-
- Consider what you would like to be able to say on your resume after the internship and make sure the experience matches what you need.
- Talk to others who have interned at the company to learn if they got good guidance, valuable experience and the resume items they hoped for.
Up front clarity about expectations will take you a long way toward making the internship a success. As you begin your internship, having written goals and scheduled regular check-ins is a great start to assuring you and the company are getting what you expected out of the experience.