Why an internship is the first step to getting a job

Here the school year is just ramping up and I want you to think about what it takes to get an internship. That’s because work experience is required in getting a job, but you need a job to get work experience. So college students’ best bet is an internship even if it means unpaid internships.

Begin your internship search now. (Credit: two + seven)

Begin your internship search now. (Credit: two + seven)

It’s never too soon to start seeking and applying for that summer internship. You have to apply early as the best ones get snapped up fast. Here’s what college students need to know about internships.

Work experience

Getting your work experience through an internship can help you to pad your resume and make valuable contacts. I was lucky to land an internship with a government agency. That looks very nice on a resume I can tell you. So how do you get your own golden ticket — er, internship?

Alexander Taub offered “Five Things You Need To Know About Internships” in a September 13, 2012, article for Forbes.com.

Taub’s recommendation included:

  • Social networks: make sure that you’re active on the kinds of social networks that are used most often in the industry that you want to work in. These typically include Twitter, LinkedIn and About.me.
  • Networking: make sure that you attend events for the industry you want to break into and mingle with others in the field.
  • Passion: having passion for what you do can carry you a long way.
  • Unpaid internships: Sometimes it’s worth it to work for free if it’s an industry or company that you are passionate about.

Of internships Taub added, “Learning about the industry, learning about what excites you about a particular job, learning about what sucks about the job. And learning any hard skills that may be necessary for the job. The internship may lead to a job once you graduate, but learning should always come first.”

Why seek an internship?

According to Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., employers are looking for work experience in the college grads that they hire. In fact internships are so important that Hansen suggests that you have more than one during your college years. In her article for QuintCareers.com, “College Students: You Simply Must Do an Internship (Better Yet: Multiple Internships)!” she explained.

Having the experience of an internship under your belt is one of the best ways to beat out the competition. Not only that but you stand a better chance of getting paid more once you get the job.

Here’s what else an internship can do for you:

  • Give you a better understanding of your field of study. Much better than book-learning
  • Develop interpersonal skills by interacting with people in your chosen profession. Check out Questia’s Interpersonal Communication page for books and articles on how to master this skill.
  • Gain confidence and good work habits.
  • Internships often give you credit toward your degree and if you’re lucky you’ll make a few dollars too.

“Not all internships are paid, of course, but those that do pay can yield pretty decent salaries. Employers queried in NACE’s 2008 Experiential Education Survey reported offering their undergraduate interns an average of $16.33 per hour,” Hansen said.

How to get that internship

When autumn leaves start to fall that’s when you should be applying for your summer internship. Your first step is to check out your college career center and any job fairs that are coming up. If you want an internship with the U.S. government you need to hustle and get your application in now.

I took a look at USAJobs.gov and the deadlines for summer internship applications are in September, October and November. In other words, they’re going fast!

But look at the kinds of internships available:

  • Department of Agriculture: program technician
  • Department of Defense: information technology
  • Department of the Interior: park guide

These internships are all paid. Some are part-time and some are full-time. Definitely worth the effort I’d say. You have to be at least a part-time student in a degree or certificate program to apply and you can apply online.

So fire up your Google search and get going with those applications. Now!

Read more about employment and the workplace on Questia where you have access to millions of full-text books and articles.

Do you plan on getting an internship during college? Tell us about it in the comments.

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  1. […] end of your internship to make a great impression, start as soon as you walk into the door. Taking internships can be the first step to living out your career dreams. Many internships can also lead to full-time employment but you […]

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