posted on April 24, 2012 10:42
Attention college students: Congratulations on (almost) making it through another semester. An extra congrats if you’re graduating from Michigan State University or Lansing Community College.
Now what? Well, it’s time for a summer internship or a summer job.
Part of a good internship has to do with company prestige. But if you’re looking for the best internship experience, it’s going to take more than just choosing the first place that sounds good. Remember: this will be a chance to gain valuable experience as well as build a case for a potential job.
(Or you could just apply for a summer internship with MessageMakers. We’re cool with that.)
5. Research the Company
Don’t go in blind. Not all companies are created equal, and you’ll want to look for an organization that has positive name recognition. Margaret Cook, camps director for Rasmussen College, suggests sizing up a potential company by browsing its website and “checking the company’s presence on social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.”
It is very crucial to find out how a company represents itself before beginning your internship. Furthermore, if you’re attempting to go into a field such as marketing and/or social media, it pays to know what working for that company will say about your skills.
4. Obtain Proof
Yes, it will be fantastic to have something to do over the summer, but always make sure you leave with proof you accomplished something. Santa Clara University suggests finding a place with a “‘start to finish’ project and a resulting product (a report, a paper, a presentation).”
Consider it from this perspective: When a potential employer asks for experience, you’re going to want to be able to offer something concrete. Knowledge is good, but proving you know how to apply your knowledge is the best indicator of your competency.
3. Look for Something New
This seems kind of like a no-brainer, but you might be surprised how often it is ignored. Michigan State University’s Internship Toolkit suggests that you ask yourself, “Where do [I] lack experience?” In other words, don’t just go looking for things you already know how to do. That doesn’t mean that videographers should start looking for packaging internships, but maybe finding a photojournalism internship would be helpful.
An internship is a low-stakes opportunity to diversify your skills. A broader understanding of your field will make you more attractive to companies when you apply for an actual job. For example, many marketing jobs ask potential employees about their skills with social media and web-based content. The more you know, the more you can help any potential employer. Don’t forget.
2. Set Expectations
One of the difficult things about the real world is the lack of real direction. An internship will give you the chance to show you have skill, but without an idea of what you want, you’ll be setting yourself up for a poor experience.
This internship guide from Experience.com relays the story of proactive public relations intern Elizabeth Tinkle:
“I’m going up to anyone—whether it’s the president of the company or someone else—and saying, ‘Give me work to do!’” Her boldness paid off: she’s now writing radio scripts and doing other copywriting. And she says she’s getting much more out of the experience. Be sure, however, to initially ask your direct supervisor for work. Don't go over too many heads to get an assignment.
When an employer asks for “self-starters,” this is exactly the type of person they want.
1. Opportunities to Network
This might be the most important thing to find out about the internship. Working hard is good; growing your skill is even better. But the best thing is meeting other people. Perhaps the thing people have a hard time understanding about the real world is that it isn’t like college. Being good earns you good grades in college, but being connected earns you opportunities in the real world.
Here’s what the US News has to say about internships and networking:
Your internship should expose you to different people at the company, allowing you to get to know them personally and hopefully build a relationship with each person. Even if you don’t end up working in an entry-level position at the organization after the internship, these people can be your ticket to other opportunities in the field.
Getting a job isn’t all about who you know – you do need skills. But people tend to hire people they know and trust. It takes some of the risk out of hiring a “new” person.
Make sure to get out there and shake some hands.
More about MessageMakers: