After graduation, employers will be on the lookout for those who stand out academically, and the graduates who demonstrate the skills, responsibility, and experience necessary to fill positions in their company. Internships, which are not always a necessary part of a college education, are great résumé builders, and they provide much of the experience and invaluable knowledge needed prior to starting a career in your field. However, securing an internship is no easy feat, as there would be hundreds of students vying for the same position. But there are steps that you can take to ensure that you are able to obtain and complete at least one internship during your time at college.
The most important step of them all is to plan early. The old proverb “the early bird catches the worm” certainly applies to finding and applying for internships. Established and esteemed companies generally have structured processes which begin in the fall for the upcoming summer internship season, so it is imperative that you start looking for an internship that suits your major. Structured internships with clearly outlined tasks, goals, and objectives will help you to make the most of the experience and ensure that you are constantly learning. Meeting with your academic advisor and getting assistance from Farmingdale State College’s Nexus Center for Applied Learning and Career Development can help you tremendously during the early stages, as you look for an interesting internship that falls within the sphere of your major, and also in the creation, revision, review, and critique of your résumé.
Creating the perfect résumé can be a tiring process but the importance of a résumé cannot be emphasized enough. Your résumé briefly summarizes the most noteworthy accomplishments of your academic journey, prior employment, or volunteer work, which shows a level responsibility and experience. You should aim to be concise in your résumé, ensuring that each résumé depicts how your skillset will benefit the company and suits the position that you are applying for. The résumé is the first thing a company sees, so it would be in your best interest to have someone look over it to help ensure that your résumé is the best that it can be.
After crafting your resume, the process goes on as you should be on the constant lookout for new opportunities and network, network, network! Networking can definitely help you get places, so wherever you go, whether it be a family function or the classroom, always try to leave knowing at least one new person. People know people, so it is always possible that someone you talk to can have some great advice or know about an internship opportunity that perfectly fits what you are looking for. Networking can also open up new opportunities for another internship, or sometimes a job, if you sell yourself and your capabilities well.
The next step is planning and preparing for your interview. Ideally, you should have researched the company and position that you are applying for, so that you are aware of how your skillsets are well suited to the needs of the business. In your interview be sure to mention how you can help improve the company, as this is what employers want to hear. It is also a great and fun idea to have a mock interview with someone close to you, so that you can practice framing your responses in a formal and professional manner. And of course don’t forget to dress professionally and put your best foot forward!
Following your passion is of course one of the most important steps in applying for internships. You should always be passionate about what you are studying, so that you are driven and energetic when working in your sector. However, the road to getting your dream job is not always a straight, clear-cut path, so you may have to do some work which is not entirely related to your major. This work will help you develop important skills for the working world, and may expose you to some new career paths which peak your interest.
A final word of advice would be to always be open to new opportunities! Some internships may not be exactly what you wanted or may not perfectly align with your field of study, but internships are great sources of hands-on learning and are opportunities you should surely take advantage of.