Internships are a great way to get a head start on your career, showing potential employers that you were interested enough in their field to seek out opportunities even before graduation. When it’s time to apply for that first job, you’ll have an undisputed leg up on your competition, because hiring managers will know that you have real-world experience, and you’ll be able to talk extensively about what you have learned. You can make the most of your internship with ESM’s tips:
• Experiment. No, you don’t have to know exactly what you want to do with your life to get a summer internship. They can be a great opportunity to explore a field in which you think you might be interested. You may love it, or you may find out that it’s not for you. Either way, it is a worthwhile experience. So if you are like most students and you aren’t totally certain what you want to do for a living, find something that interests you and give it a shot.
• Work your network. After you have a general idea of what field you want to intern in, start asking around for leads. Family friends, parents of your friends, teachers and coaches - all of these people can help you find an internship opportunity. Whether you realize it or not, you already have a network of people thatyou can start asking about any internship opportunities in your field of interest. You never know who will make the crucial connection that will get you started.
• Be bold. If there is a particular company you know you want to intern for, call them up. Ask them if you could meet with them about being an intern. When you do this, be prepared to make a strong case for why you want to intern with them, and be ready to send them your resumé and cover letter.
• Be inquisitive. During an interview, make sure you have questions for them as well. Prepare questions about the company and the internship program. Will you have an assigned mentor? What kinds of duties will you be expected to perform? How many hours will you work per week, and will you be paid? You’ll probably have to do some grunt work, sure, but you want to make sure you’re getting some experience that is germane to the particular career field, too. You don’t want to be stuck making copies all day and doing nothing else.
• Be on time, never complain, and make your boss’s job easier. This goes for any job, really, but especially in internships you want to be the person whom everyone thinks of positively. The people you work with could very well be making hiring decisions in the future, or provide a valuable reference to you in future job applications. Make yourself valuable. Be reliable and friendly. Your goal should be that when they are looking to hire a new employee in the future, they think of you.
• Follow up. Even after your internship is over, stay in touch with your contacts there. Drop them an email from time to time letting them know what you’re up to, and ask how things are going back at the company. You never know when they might have a job opening, or when they might know of an opening elsewhere that is a good fit for you.