College internships are a great way to build the bridge between your academic and professional careers. Handled correctly, your internship can help set up your career for years to come. Our college internship tips will help you do it correctly.
Use these college internship tips to get the most out of your experience both during, and after graduation.
Don’t be afraid to try new things.
If you’re looking for an internship, but aren’t sure what you want to do, then look for openings in fields that interest you. Even if it’s not technically within your college major, take the chance.
The point of an internship is to gain experience and figure out what you like and don’t like career-wise. Even if you do multiple internships during your college career, the experience will benefit you.
Set Personal Goals
Use this time to be productive in various ways.
Before starting, make a list of personal goals you want to achieve during this internship. Goal planning is helpful for two reasons: You will stay consistently busy doing meaningful work, You will develop a professional demeanor that future employers want. Achieving personal goals gives you talking points about your experience afterward when asked about it.
Show employers that you’re interested in them early.
If a particular company isn’t looking for interns until summer, make sure to at least contact them 3-4 months ahead of time. Have your preliminary resume ready or application filled out as soon as allowed.
Also, be mindful of these tips:
- Follow up on resume or application submission one week later (unless notified by the company beforehand)
- Follow up 1-2 more times to reiterate your interests
Don’t go much harder than that or it can be perceived negatively. However, keeping consistent communication going will help your chances more than not.
Develop Professional Relationships And Contacts
Get to know the people you’re working with well.
A major benefit of successful internships is developing professional contacts. These are people who will:
- Inform you of new work opportunities
- Provide career advice
- Offer additional help when needed
Start building this network by communicating with your co-workers and supervisors while interning. You will show that you’re trustworthy, professional, and worth their time once you’ve graduated.
Develop your career demeanor now.
Use your internship to mold your professional image. Tips to help develop it include:
- Avoid gossip
- Staying out of office politics
- Responding to communications promptly
- Limiting your personal calls and emails
Your co-workers and superiors will take notice of not only your work quality but character too. If you can demonstrate an effective and positive work attitude, then you could potentially receive a job offer after graduation. If not, then you can definitely receive a professional recommendation or two.
Be Prepared For Grunt Work
Get ready to roll up your sleeves.
Many college internships require you to do grunt work tasks:
- Filing documents
- Getting coffee
- Assisting minor projects
It’s easy to get disgruntled if it feels like this is all you do. One way to avoid this problem is discussing your role responsibilities beforehand and clarifying what menial tasks are required.
If you are told that say 30-40% is menial work but the remaining 60-70% is skill-building work, then that’s a fair compromise. Internships are where you will certainly pay some dues, but also remember that everyone has to do that in their careers.
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