Undergrad Internships 101

With the current state of the economy in shambles, the need for a competitive edge in the scarce workforce cannot be emphasized enough. In other words, obtaining a position that reflects your undergraduate effort can be a major conundrum under current hiring conditions. One route that you can take to surmount employment competition is by utilizing the experience gained through participating in a creditable internship program.

Whether you are considering an internship for the future or have already applied for an internship for the upcoming summer, you may have some doubts. Fortunately, I have done the research for you and will attempt to pacify your lingering doubts with hints that I have read and used in my own experience as a summer intern.

Surviving an internship can certainly be a daunting task; however, the stress that accompanies an internship is only a luxury for those prospects who are actually chosen. Applying for an internship entails finding a position that is right for you, researching the background of that company or business extensively, polishing up your résumé, and committing before the application deadline.

Internship survival tips generally fall into three categories: communication, mentality, and networking.

The communication aspect of my survival tips pertains to the intern’s responsibility to be vocal and not shy away from valuable opportunities. In other words, as an intern, you should not hesitate to ask questions or even show a strong interest in wanting to do more. Internships are extremely temporary positions, so you cannot err in displaying a strong character that could potentially distinguish you from the other interns. In doing so, your boss may not perceive you as a temporary addition but a long-term employee candidate. Being vocal in the working environment could actually promote you from making coffee to attending board meetings.

For example, former Shepherd student Alex Severson was required to intern for his journalism minor and decided that he would apply for a summer internship position at the Shepherd Chronicle.

“I decided to stay local so that I could report on issues in my own community, and I wanted to stay close to home,” he said.

Severson’s main piece of interning advice is to apply early and to apply to a position that you will enjoy.

“Try to get into a place where you’ll enjoy what you do. Even if it’s just an internship, you don’t want to be miserable performing trivial tasks. Make sure the internship will allow you to hone more than your coffee-making skills. Also, I can’t stress getting in contact with the place you’d like to intern at early enough. The earlier you apply, the more likely you’ll obtain the position you desire,” he said.

Secondly, networking is a major facet of interning that can sometimes be overlooked. Networking is merely the interaction between you and the people around you at the office or in other business-meeting scenarios. In order to network properly, just strike up a conversation with a professional and exchange information. Ask questions about his or her role in the company, and do not hesitate to share a few aspirations of your own. If you handle yourself professionally and execute strong social skills, the conversation will most likely conclude with an exchange of contact information and you can begin climbing up the social ladder of employment.

Lastly, your mentality should be as positive as humanly possible to ensure that you are reaping every benefit that the internship is affording you. Like I said before, internships are temporary gigs; therefore, if you are being bogged down emotionally with frustration, just keep your head up and finish the job that you started. Interning can be the section of your résumé that persuades an employer that you have the experience needed for that specific job offer. If you identify the internship as a learning experience, you cannot fail. In fact, sometimes an internship can teach you that a certain position is exactly what you don’t want. Make sure that you are permeable to the knowledge inherent in all circumstances and use your internship experiences to realize your own work ethic.

Just remember, it is not becoming any easier to find adequate employment positions after college; however, one summer of interning can launch you into a higher echelon of employment opportunity.

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