Getting an internship has become an extremely competitive process; the earlier you start the process the better your chances. So what is the process to get that priceless opportunity?
Plan Your Internship Program
Are you just starting college or even trying to decide where you want to attend college? If you are just starting out and you are interested in internships between your sophomore and junior years or junior and senior years; find out which of your college options have a strong internship program and strong internship connections. If an internship is one of your goals; then make that part of the requirements for the college you choose.
If you are already in school check with your department head to find out what they know about internships, what previous students have done, and the typical requirements. When you learn these things start your research.
Identify Your Internship Goal
What is your goal for your internship? Is it to:
Get exposure to as many skills as possible.
Get exposure to a specific company.
Experience in a specific industry.
Understanding your internship goal is critical to getting the right internship opportunity. You must be able to focus your efforts to prevent your wasting time and opportunities.
It is also important to realize that some industries and companies are more conducive to internships that provide a learning experience than others. Sometime interns are simply looked upon as cheap labor and people that can be used to perform the tasks that no one else wants to perform.
Look for companies that have a practice of bringing their interns back for subsequent internships, hiring their interns, or providing strong recommendations when their former interns are looking for that first job. The good companies have good reputations, take time to research the opportunities.
Gain a Specific Skill
If your objective is to gain a specific skill where will you have the best opportunity for that to happen? What is the industry that will meet your objective? What is the company that will afford the best opportunity? Who do you know or who do you need to know that can help you answer those questions?
Who you know that can help you answer those questions is critical. Some industries and especially businesses are better at providing quality experience than others and knowing the difference can make the difference between a great experience and a less than optimal experience.
Once you have your targets identified; who do you know or who do you need to know that can help you locate and obtain that opportunity?
Get Exposure to as Many Skills as Possible
Maybe your objective is to get exposure to as many different skills as you can. If that is the case then you must be looking for those opportunities that will provide that experience. Again the industry or company can make a huge difference on whether your objective is met or not.
Research the companies, write to their Human Resource Departments or whoever coordinates their internship program and ask about the typical internship experience. Identify the background and education they look for from an intern. Learn the roles, skills, and tasks that the interns fill, learn, and perform.
Get Exposure to a Specific Company
If your goal is to serve an internship with a specific company learn all that you can. Identify the departments that hire interns; learn what the skills, backgrounds, and education each department is seeking for their intern positions. Determine how well you match those desires and whether what you are lacking is a deal breaker or if you possess additional compensating skills. Know your audience and be prepared.
Experience in a Specific Industry
If you are looking for experience in a specific industry; identify the players. Learn who hires interns and into what roles. Identify the companies that offer the best opportunities and skill development? Where will you gain the best experience that lead you toward your future goals?
When you have targeted an industry, it is quite similar to targeting a specific company. Do your research and learn where the best opportunities are and then pursue those opportunities.
The Final Step
The final step in this process is your networking. Whether you are applying for college, preparing for your first year, or somewhere later in your college experience make connections; build your network. Use LinkedIn and start the process as early as you can.
If you are looking to the future and having an internship; start cultivating relationships within your network for these opportunities. The reality is that you chances are far greater for getting the internship that you want is by having connections. There are countless situations where parents that are friends help their children get internships with their friend’s businesses.
They know the business, they know the individual, and your parent will not put you in a situation with someone they do not respect and know that you will be treated fairly and have a great experience.
Tom Staskiewicz speaks and coaches on Social Media/Social Networking topics helping businesses, organizations, and individuals establish and manage their Social Media presence. Your Social Media presence doesn’t just happen and will not take care of itself. Tom helps you with those processes so your Social Media efforts will work for you.