Finding the Right Internship

 Internships_II

An internship is an opportunity for students, and even individual’s that graduated from college years ago, to gain practical experience in any given field. Participating in an internship program is considered the fastest ways to get your foot in the door at today’s top firms—before graduating from college.

While many internships do not offer a salary, a select few do actually pay. Paid internships are typically offered in the technical field, medical, and government, to mane a few. Most unpaid internship programs typically offer course credit upon completion of an internship, but some colleges do not give academic credit for internships. However, these colleges are the exception, not the rule. Internships are either full or part-time and they are typically completed during the summer or during a regular semester.   

Internships are beneficial in several ways. In addition to playing a significant role in your university experience, an internship can help you learn more about your chosen career field or other career fields you might be interested in. An internship can help you:

  • Gain confidence in your abilities
  • Gain valuable experience to include on your resume
  • Learn more about what your future work environment will be like
  • Meet people in the industry and gain invaluable contacts
  • Obtain references that will boost your credibility when applying for other positions

When searching for an internship, you should be just as selective as you would be during your search for a paid full-time position. You should look for opportunities that match your career interests and skills. An internship should also enhance your academic program and work well with your current class schedule. In addition, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Can I afford to work an unpaid internship or do I need a paid internship to help with tuition costs?
  2. Do I want career-related experience or just work experience?
  3. How long is the commute?
  4. How many hours can I afford to work without interfering with my studies?
  5. Would I like the opportunity to travel?

Think about these questions ahead of time, this way you won’t be overwhelmed with too many choices. These questions should help narrow your list of internship opportunities considerably.

Internship_Intro

When it comes to timing your internship, it is important to understand that employers with the most competitive programs begin the selection process several months before the position will begin and others might begin the process even earlier. In fact, some programs have application deadlines at least a year (or more) in advance. Companies with summer internship programs typically begin looking for summer interns between January and late March. Internships for fall and spring are usually advertised late in the previous semester or very early in the current semester. Most students may intern anytime after their freshman year, but the majority of students intern in their junior or senior year, when they are already well into their major courses. This is a good idea, as the internship will serve as an excellent supplement to major course studies.

Getting Started with your Search for an Internship Program

Once you have decided that an internship program is for you, you should visit your school’s career services office. Your internship coordinator will have a list of current internship opportunities, a list of companies that offered internship opportunities in the past, and lists of students and alumni that have completed internships. These students and alumni are always more than willing to share their experiences with you.

If you attend a smaller college or university and it does not have an internship coordinator, your career services office will still be able to help you. You can also search for internship opportunities on your own by visiting the websites listed below. When applying for internships, it is important to follow the application instructions to the letter. Incomplete applications are usually discarded without further review. It is also important to pay close attention to deadlines. Internship programs rarely accept applications after the deadline.

Top Internship Websites

Studentjobs.gov
The Internship Series Online
Backdoorjobs.com

The Princeton Review
CampusCareerCenter.com
CoolWorks.com
Internshipprograms.com
MonsterTrak

Forbes Top Internships for 2010

Capital Fellows Program
Garmin International
General Electric
Google
Inroads
J.P. Morgan Investment Bank
KPMG
Nickelodeon Animation Studios
Smithsonian Institution
Steppenwolf Theater Company

  

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