Having an internship is one of the best things you can do for your career while still in school. Even if you don’t end up pursuing a job in the field of your internship, you’ll still gain important experience and skills to prepare you for the job market. When you decide you want to do an internship, you should think about what types of companies or organizations interest you, as well as what you hope to gain from the experience. Here are some tips on things to think about when looking for an internship:
There are two ways you can approach the types of internships you look for: You can either focus on looking for an internship in the particular industry you’d like to get into, or in the specific job function you’d like to perform. For example you can apply for internships in a bank or consulting firm if you want to work in financial services or a research lab if you want to work in scientific research. On the other hand, if you know the type of position you’d like to have, you can look for professionals who may be willing to take on an intern. If you want to be an accountant, for example, you shouldn’t limit yourself to large accounting firms, you can also intern in the accounting department of various organizations.
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Think about the field that interests you and research top companies and organizations that you’d like to work for. Then check their websites to see if they have formal internship programs. Many large companies have internship programs for students and have specific deadlines for applications. Talk to staff at your college to see if there are any summer recruitment fairs or established relationships with companies offering student internships. You may even be able to receive college credits for your time working in an internship.
Even if a company doesn’t advertise an official internship program, you can still call them to inquire about a possible summer or part-time internship. Many companies are willing to take on interns or volunteers if an interest is expressed. It can help to contact small firms and local practices to inquire about internships as they are often willing to have some extra help while teaching you some basics in the work place.
Talk to professors, parent’s, family friends and others about your interest in engaging in an internship and ask if they know of any suitable placements in the field you want, or in the type of job that interests you. It can be much easier to network about internships as opposed to paid positions, since you’re main purpose is experience and you typically don’t get paid much, if anything.
The more specific you can be with your internship, and the closer it is to the career you want to pursue, the better. But remember, any internship is better than nothing and even if it’s only slightly related to your field of interest, it will still provide you with vital tools and experience for the future.