The Basics: Why get an internship?
Internships are short batches of job experiences that you can find in any career field. They usually last eight to sixteen weeks and are available for fall, spring and summer.
Claudia Cruz is the Director of Internships and Experiential Learning at the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno. She’s an expert at helping students find internships, perfect their resumes, and prepare them to join the workforce.
“Internships are important for college students in their careers because many students don’t know what they want to do in life,” Cruz said. “This is usually a really good time to get into an environment, learn new skills. Then I realize, I want to know more about this place or well, I think I want to try something different.”
Many colleges have an internship page up and running that posts jobs available at the school and in the community. Some colleges will also have a career services center to help students find jobs and review resumes. Cruz also suggests searching Google, LinkedIn, Indeed, and Handshake to find paid and unpaid opportunities.
It’s never too early to think about training
It is important to gain as much experience as possible while you are in college. The more internships you have, the more complete your CV will be!
“I would definitely say that it is important that you start thinking about internships once you get into college,” Cruz said. “I think the best time to do training is in the summer. It’s really important moments because if you try some internships, you know what you like and you can continue to gain more experience in a field.”
Hiring managers typically expect first-year students to have less experience than students who are about to graduate. Use that to your advantage to get an internship in the areas you’re interested in. This way, when you are a senior, you will have a lot of experience to draw from and you will have professional connections in your previous jobs.
Cruz also emphasized the importance of having experience outside your major. You will never know what jobs will be available upon graduation, so having many skills in related fields makes you more employable.
Extracurricular approaches can also provide valuable experience
If you don’t have any previous work experience, research your extracurricular skills for marketable skills. Cruz suggests highlighting the skills you’ve acquired or positions you’ve held in clubs and other organizations. If you are a club president or treasurer, this is leadership or accounting experience. Creating a fraternity or sorority poster can lead to a marketing or graphic design portfolio.
Professors are also great people to connect with when looking for an internship. Many professors have connections in the college and in the larger community. If you are interested in a particular field, find a professor who works there and get to know them. Professors can also act as references when applying for jobs.
Finally, remember that not every job will be an internship of your dreams. However, working as a server or in retail is still an experience I’ve gained. Cruz suggests that you emphasize the important skills you’ve used and see how you can apply them to training in your field.
“The point is, don’t sit back and wait for things to happen for you,” Cruz said. “You have to make things happen and this is how you build a resume. This is how you build the network that will be your references. For your cover letter, this is how you can write about things.”
Now is the time to take these tips and start applying for an internship! Good luck and God bless you!