It is more important than ever to participate in an internship or pre-professional experience before you look for a job upon graduation. Increasingly, employers want people with experience, and an internship provides you with that experience. In the job search, having completed an internship clearly gives you an edge over those who haven't.
You can search for and complete an internship at any point during your undergraduate or graduate education. There are even internship opportunities available for recent graduates. Starting the internship search process either freshman or sophomore year allows you the flexibility to complete multiple internships in a variety of fields.
- Short-term, supervised, pre-professional work experiences which provide you training and experience in a specific field or career area.
- Learning experiences where you are expected to be productive and add value to the organization.
- Be paid or unpaid.
- Be for academic credit or not.
- Be formal or informal.
- Vary in hours and length.
- Take place any time during formal education or after completion of your degree.
By participating in an internship, you may:
- Gain valuable, hands-on, work experience in a real life career field.
- Explore a career field of interest without making a commitment.
- Identify an employer for full-time employment after college.
- Evaluate and be evaluated by a potential employer.
- Integrate and complement academic studies with on-the-job, professional-level experience.
- Test personal aptitudes, abilities and interests in relation to your career choice and job demands.
- Develop marketable, transferable skills which employers value.
- Provide a valuable resource to an employer and make a real-world impact.
Finding an internship is:
- Similar to finding a job. Complete the "Checklist for Internship and Job Search Success." Establish a GoldPASS account. Look for opportunities and apply for them.
- Sometimes easier than finding a job. Employers value the opportunity to evaluate interns as potential employees and benefit from the energy and ideas interns bring to the workplace.
During the internship, make the most of it by:
- Setting obtainable personal goals.
- Having regular meetings with your supervisor and asking questions when you have them.
- Being professional and maintaining a positive attitude.
- Immersing yourself in the experience and doing your best work.
- Networking with your colleagues.
- Tracking your accomplishments and the work you complete.
- Leaving on a positive note.
Avoid the following while at the internship:
- Arriving late or unprepared.
- Dressing inappropriately or inconsistently with the standards of the organization.
- Ignoring an extra work invitation such as a networking event or other out-of-office event.
- Gossiping or complaining.
After the internship has ended:
- Reflect upon the experience. What did you learn?
- Update your resume.
- Send thank you notes to your supervisor and the colleagues with whom you closely worked.
- Ask your supervisor if she or he is willing to serve as a reference for you.
- Create or update your portfolio to be able to show future employers evidence of the work you completed during your internship.
- Build upon the experience. If you liked your internship, consider what you can do next to keep gaining experience in the field.
- If you didn't like the internship setting, job duties, or the industry as a whole, meet with a career counselor to explore your next steps.