As a college student, securing internships over the course of your time at school is super important – whether it’s during the summer or during the year, paid, unpaid, or for credit, internships can help you get real job experience and make connections.
Here are some internship do’s and don’ts you should keep in mind.
- Do take internships that align with your goals. Know what you want to get out of an internship going into the application process and how you think the experience will help you.
Ask yourself questions like will the internship give you connections in the industry you hope to go into? Will it give you knowledge in an area you otherwise wouldn’t know? Consider all the angles of each internship you land and how they will help you in the long run.
- Don’t hesitate to ask for help. Finding an internship may not be the simplest task – so don’t be afraid to reach out to teachers, friends, family, and the career center at your school to ask for help in finding internships.
If you’re finding it difficult to obtain an internship in the field you want in the city you’re located in, consider widening your parameters – is there a similar field with an internship you can apply to? Are you able to relocate for the time of the internship? Take into consideration all possible leads and opportunities available.
- Do be willing to take unpaid internships. Not all internships are paid, especially depending on what field you want your internship to be in, so be willing to compromise and work for no pay and just experience. Of course, if you can get a paid internship or one that offers course credit, more power to you.
If you really need to make money, focus your searches on paid opportunities only, or see if an unpaid internship has somewhat flexible hours that would allow you to work a part-time paid job on the side.
- Don’t burn any bridges. No matter if you just applied to or interviewed for an internship but didn’t land it or had an internship that wasn’t the best experience, don’t burn any bridges. You never know what contacts and connections you may find useful after graduation so always be respectful, appreciative and polite.
It also helps to keep in touch with your former co-workers, interns, or bosses, or keep up with the company you interned for by following them on Twitter or liking their Facebook page. Ensure they don’t forget you so that if a job opportunity comes up at their business, they’ll think of you first and be able to send the lead your way.
- Do send thank-you notes. Anyone who helped you in your quest for an internship deserves a thank you. Your advisor or career services office, friends, family, whoever interviewed you, your boss at the internship – always be sure to thank them if they helped lead you to the internship or if they gave you the internship.
If you’re not sure of an address or never met them in person, a thank-you email is okay to send (as long as you write more than just “thanks for your help!”). It’s nice to be recognized and appreciated, so let them know you do for their internship aid efforts.
- Don’t be afraid to take initiative. Even if your internship just consists of getting coffee and running errands, take initiative and ask your boss if you can sit in on some meetings or spend a day shadowing the person at the company whose job you aspire to have.
Whatever your internship, make the most out of it and get every experience you can while you’re there – just be sure not to overstep your boundaries and don’t try to show up the other employees or interns (that’s not the kind of way you want to be noticed and remembered).
Keep these internship do’s and don’ts in mind when you’re looking for and completing internships during your years at college and always leave a good impression – both on those helping you secure an internship and on those you work with during your internship.
You never know when an internship could lead to another opportunity or a job offer, so take every internship seriously and give it your best!
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