Original article by Amy Marie Charland and Mary Ann Lawson. Modified by Christy Jensen. Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
An internship allows you to test your career objectives, helps you identify your talents, and directs you toward an appropriate career, while helping you acquire essential practical and professional skills you need in the business world. It also lets you see how well you fit into a specific company’s culture. But finding an internship takes some preparation. Before setting out to find an internship, ask yourself these questions:
- Where do I want to do an internship? My hometown? Out-of-state?
- What type of work would I like to do? In what field?
- What type of organization would I like to do an internship for?
- What do I want to gain from an internship? What specific skills or experiences do I want to acquire?
After you’ve answered these questions, you’re ready to start searching for internships. Here are some suggestions for locating internship opportunities:
- Check out College Central Network (CCN) – NOVA’s online internship and job database for students. Through the database you can learn about internship opportunities with local companies as well as connect to a national internship board. Did you know it may be possible to earn college credit for an internship? Visit this website to learn more.
- Attend job fairs. Employers often use fairs to identify students for internships as well as for full-time employment. View the “Upcoming Events and Programs” and the “Announcements” sections of CCN to learn about upcoming, local job fairs.
- Network. Talk with friends, family, co-workers, supervisors, instructors, administrators, and professionals in your field of study, and let them know you are searching for an internship.
Applying for an internship
Each employer has its own application process. Does the company want you to apply online? What is the deadline? What will the employer need from you to make your application complete? Start the process early. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Create your resume.
- Write a cover letter, if required.
- Utilize the resume builder and Job Search Kit in CCN to create your resume and cover letter.
- Work with a NOVA career counselor to discuss internship opportunities, have your resume and cover letter critiqued, and discuss tips and strategies for getting the most out of an internship.
Choosing an internship
Your final task is to select the internship opportunity that is the best match for you. Review your goals for doing an internship and choose the opportunity that best meets those goals. An internship offers many benefits, including:
- Valuable experience. Many employers want to hire people who have experience and can step into the job and be productive right from the start.
- Information. An internship will help you make contacts, get ideas, and learn about the field.
- Practical application. You will have the chance to apply theories learned in the classroom to a real-world setting. When you return to the classroom after your internship, you will better understand the many nuances of business operations that relate to the theories you study.
- In many cases, an internship can lead to a job offer.