Should you do an internship?

You’re getting ready to graduate, you have the perfect resume and an impressive GPA, but without real-life work experience, your chances of landing that dream job get cut drastically short. You may have heard of getting an internship, but is it right for you? We do a rundown of what benefits you could expect to get as an intern

Benefits of being an intern

If you can show that you’ve had work experience with a prestigious company, your chances of being hired increase, giving you an edge over other applicants who apply with little or no work experience. Often, those who intern for a company also have the chance to land permanent full-time employment there.

In addition to this, your chances of getting an intern position are a lot better than falling right into a permanent, full-time job right after school. With the weak economy, lots of companies are relying on interns to wear multiple hats, and do a lot more than just make coffee. Before you know it, you may have the chance to give your potential career a trial run, and if you end up liking it, you can collect connections, college credits, and new skills, even if you don’t get a permanent job out of it.

Where to begin

Don’t feel boxed in by your college major, start looking at the industries that have the jobs that excite you. If you don’t have much work experience, narrow your focus on smaller, local companies for a better chance at being hired.

If you’re not sure where you should be applying, do some online research of popular companies in your chosen field, or see if your school has a job center that can point you in the right direction. Visit company websites, paying particular attention to any internship opportunities, and when one catches your eye, find out the deadline for their program, along with the materials they require for consideration (i.e. resume, cover letter, samples, portfolio, etc.). Finally, find out the appropriate contact to whom you’ll send your information. Follow up with that person in two weeks (email is best), but in case you don’t hear a response, make sure you have a list of other companies to contact.

Benefits of unpaid internship

Thinking about turning down that intern job because it doesn’t pay? You might want to reconsider when you weigh the benefits: you get hands-on learning, and the ability to network with influential people in your potential industry. If the job is only for a few days a week, you may have the chance to supplement your income with a paying part-time job. Just be careful that if you take on an internship that doesn’t pay it’s can really be worth your time in other ways, just have a clear understanding of what your responsibilities will be, and make sure it’s something that will benefit you, not just the company.

Working an intern job may not be required experience when applying for a job, but when you’re up against a dozen other candidates, you need every advantage available to you. If you stay committed, organized and up to date on every step in your search, you’ll have a strong first step on the career ladder of your dreams.