Although the job situation has eased now but it’s still tough out there, and a job internship can give you the competitive advantage among thousands of candidates. Internships are a great way to get your foot in the door – whether to get practical experience if you’re transitioning from a college student, or if you’re trying to make a career change. Besides, most companies prefer candidates who “can hit the ground running”. Some of them can be a little apprehensive of hiring someone right out of college or a novice in the field knowing they have to spend time & money on the candidate before they get any productivity out of them.
Consider internship as part of the learning process which is essential to make your education in the field complete. In fact there are many professions such as law and medicine where internship or residency is a requirement to practice in the field. Internships or on-the-job training are also necessary in many professions and for trade certifications to keep your certifications & accreditations up to date annually.
The important thing to keep in mind is your internship should be in the field your education/specialization is, and not to become an errand girl or boy doing odd jobs because that wouldn’t benefit you much career-wise except temporary cash benefit.
ADVANTAGES OF INTERNSHIPS
Many colleges have programs through which they pair students who want internships to businesses and corporations who want interns. There are also companies who offer for-credit internships – you may not get a pay check every two weeks here but your education is partly being paid for which is as good as cash. Find out if your college or local companies have any similar programs.
If you cannot find a paid internship, try an unpaid one. Try to negotiate a deal where the company pays for your transportation or some other expense you’ll incur. Whatever the case try not to choose the fast or easy way out by moving to another field or waiting for your dream job and doing nothing.
What good is an unpaid internship? The fact is other than cash you’ll get all the benefits you’d have gotten as a paid intern – i.e. experience you can place in your resume, references you can use for your dream job search, and most importantly possibility of a paid internship or a “real job” within the company. True your company benefits with free labor, but you benefit a lot more from them.
If financially you can’t afford to do an unpaid internship full time, maybe do it part-time and take up another paid job.
As I mentioned in the beginning, make sure the internship is meaningful for you, i.e. the experience you get is in the field or career you have in mind.
WHERE TO FIND INTERNSHIPS
When you apply for internships, throughout the process - in your emails to the employers, dressing for interviews and asking questions, be as professional as you would for a “real job”.
Once you get the internship give it your best because this is what you potentially want to do.