More than likely your parents fall into one of two categories. (1) They’re constantly pushing you to gain working experience because no one is going to hire a post-grad with no experience, or (2) they want you to slow your roll while you’re young because you’re just working way too hard for a kid.
If you fall into the second group, you’re lucky. Maybe you should take it down a notch. Employers want experience, but they also want well-rounded individuals with an integrated life and personality. If you’re part of the first group, it might be time to hit the ground running in the search for that experience everyone’s talking about. Only you know what’s best for your life and your career, but if you are in the market for an internship, start early, they could be quite hard to land.
Sometimes you can skip the tedious work of searching for an internship if you just happen to know the right people. This doesn’t always come naturally. The amount of effort you have to put into relationship building is a job in its own. You can begin your networking by getting to know people close to you. This could include College professors, administrators, peers, speakers, and alumni.
Crafting a Resume
This might be the first resume you’re creating aside from those for your high school summer jobs at the pizza shop. It can be really hard to write your first resume when you don’t really have much to put on it. Never lie, but definitely dive into each and every project or position that exemplifies characteristics that could be useful at your next job. Even working at an ice cream shop for a few summers shows persistence and work ethic. You’d be surprised how many teens don’t work at all!
You can also add:
- Current coursework
- School projects
Look For Career Fairs
Your school should host at least one career fair a year, and if they don’t, try to find one locally. Career fairs are great ways to put yourself a step above an electronically submitted application. It gives you the chance to meet a contact within different companies face-to-face and make a lasting impression. It’s important to make sure you bring multiple copies of your resume to career fairs so you can hand them out as you go. Also bring a notepad to write down any important follow up information you may need for the coming weeks.
Dress the Part
First impressions are a real thing. Whether you’re meeting potential employers at a career fair or going in for a genuine interview, you have to dress the part. Business casual and business formal aren’t the most common themes in a 20-something year olds wardrobe, so a shopping trip may be in the cards.
Depending on the internship you’re looking into, business casual or business formal can make all the difference. If you need to borrow clothes from a friend or parent (which many students do), just make sure it fits! There’s nothing worse than a dress that’s too tight or a suite jacket that you’re swimming in.
Check Out the Usual Sites
If you weren’t having luck with employers you met at the career fair, there’s no harm in taking your search online. In fact, there are websites specifically designed to connect students with employers doling out internships. Some of the most common suggestions include: LinkedIn, Chegg, Internships.com, Indeed and Glassdoor.
If you have a specific industry or company in mind, try going directly to the job center on their website. Also, take a deeper look into opportunity sites of industry-specific internships. For example, if you’re interested in working in sports, sites like Work In Sports, Teamwork Online, and NCAA have hubs for sports related gigs.
Nailing the Interview
If you’re lucky enough to get to the interview process, you’ve made it to crunch time. Preparation is everything when you’re about to be compared to maybe ten or more other applicants. Consider some of the questions you might be asked prior to interview day and come up with a few good answers. Make sure you research the company extensively, have questions ready, know your own resume like the back of your hand and relax…don’t be nervous.
Internships could be the start of a very long-term career or another bullet point of experience on your resume for the next application. In the competitive world we live in today, internships are basically a necessity for success. Luckily, you don’t have to wait to begin your search and as long as the company doesn’t have specific age standards, you’re good to go as early as your freshman year.
So, why wait to start your journey to a successful career?
Anne Baron is highly experienced educator, writer and copywriter specializing in academic research. She has a Ph.D. in Educational Administration with almost 25 years of experience in teaching and academic writing. She spent a dozen years managing a large college peer-tutoring program and another dozen years in the classroom teaching college students. She has since retired from teaching and devotes her time and efforts to freelance writing for institutions, businesses and colleges like Patrick Henry College.