You shouldn’t worry about finding an internship; it is finding the right internship that can be troublesome. Take time to explore different options. Here are some helpful tips in getting the most out of your internship:
Resources: Many career sites are available online. Career-specific organizations often have their own internship databases. You can also go directly to the source – check out the websites of the company you’d be interested in researching/working for as many keep internship information directly on their websites. If an organization doesn’t have an established position, find out if they could use any help – paid or unpaid. It takes more initiative, but you will reap the benefits when the company sees what an asset you were as an intern. Your parents and their friends are also great resources for finding an internship.
Interview: The best way to prepare for internship interviews is to do mock interviews with your parents’ friends. This will prepare you better for the internship interviews you will have. Treat the interview as you would for a potential job: dress professionally, research the company and understand what they do, come prepared with a list of 15-20 questions about the company and the position, know your answers to common interview questions and what you hope to learn from the experience. Make sure to bring a copy of your resume and references in case they are requested.
Income: Many internships will be unpaid positions, and as you will discover, a paycheck cannot always be the biggest factor in your search. Remember, internships are about getting experience, so make sure to intern in more than one industry in order to compare the various industry fields. You will have the opportunity to network with people that can share industry knowledge and serve as valuable contacts afterward – this is priceless compared to what you would make per hour.
Ignored: As an intern, you might receive mundane tasks that go along with the title such as making coffee, endless amounts of copying, or running to get everyone’s lunch but at the end of the day, if you are allowed to sit in on a meeting, contribute an idea or even do a little hands-on work, you’ll be more able to understand the corporate culture of that job and industry.
Initiative: If you find yourself doing only grunt work but you are making a contribution to the company at the same time, don’t be afraid to approach your boss and voice your concerns. Offer to collaborate with other interns. Keep in mind that internships are all about gaining experience in a field you are interested in, not about making the perfect cup of coffee.
After a three-six month internship, 520 unpaid hours, and a few rookie mistakes out of the way, you’ve got one new bullet for your resume (see next section for an example resume). Whether you walk away loving it or realizing that it isn’t the job for you, both circumstances are proof of a worthwhile internship.