A college degree is no longer a guarantee of gainful employment. In addition to earning a diploma, you want to graduate college with marketable skills, valuable work experience, and strong letters of recommendation. Although most colleges do not require students to complete internships until senior year, it’s never too early to begin an internship. If you do not want to take on an internship in your first semester of college you may want to consider a summer internship prior to your first semester, a short internship during winter break, or an internship during the summer after completion of your freshman year. Planning and strategic thinking are key to finding the perfect internship.
Connect to potential internship sites and apply in advance for internships. I recommend applying at least one semester before you want to begin your internship. If you wait until spring semester to apply for an internship for the spring semester, the position will likely have been filed by someone who applied at the beginning of the fall semester. If you are seeking a summer internship you will likely want to apply during winter break. If you are really eager or have your heart set on working with a particular company you may want to apply in the fall semester to avoid the spring time rush.
Build A Foundation
You do not have to have everything all figured out before you begin an internship. An internship is like a test drive. You’re taking the time to explore and experience what meets your needs without being locked into a long-term contract. Throughout your internship not only are you applying research and classroom knowledge, you are also developing professional skills, building a resume, discovering your preferences, and clarifying your career goals. Every internship opportunity should prepare you for your next opportunity.
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Nicki Sanders, The Packaged For Success Coach, is an experienced trainer, group facilitator, and program manager. She has packaged her Masters of Social Work degree and over 15 years of work experience into Packaged For Success, a training and professional development company. Packaged For Success provides career coaching to college students, entry-level job hunters, and experienced employees seeking a promotion. Packaged For Success also offers communication and productivity improvement training for employees and supervisors and provides consultation on building sustainable, impactful, socially responsible community programs.
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