Believe it or not, one of the most rewarding experiences while in college can be an internship. It takes away from the monotonous task of sitting in a lecture trying to take in information and retain it. You learn more from the practical side of learning by means of an internship than the theoretical side by sitting in a lecture room. Basically internships are intended to help college students obtain the skills and knowledge they need to compete in the job market and later in their career field once they earn their degree. You can learn a lot from the right college internship, but others can be nothing more than resume fillers.
The best internships to get early on are with companies that have wide brand recognition, for example an internship at Coca Cola. Having the Coca Cola name on your resume will help you land yourself a prestigious job at a big company following your graduation. It doesn’t matter what you did on your internship, the brand name will help open doors for you. So it is advisable to aim high when choosing the company to undertake your internship.
College students often make the mistake of believing that their goal throughout college should be to build a strong-looking resume. While a resume that contains internships, jobs, club affiliations and other impressive aspects will likely catch the attention of an interviewer, showing that there is substance to what you’ve done in your two, four, etc. years in college is just as important, if not more so. At the end of the day, you’re there to get results. Aim for the highest results possible as it’s what will separate you from other candidates during the job screening process. A good example for this is; two pilot graduates are applying for a job as a pilot. One obtained a 70 per cent average in his/her final year exams, the other obtained 40 per cent. Who would you employ? More importantly, who would you rather fly the plane in which you are travelling on?
So when you’re considering college internships, you should expect the internship to give you the opportunity to develop your skills and procure knowledge of the real world. One of the most important skills to develop is people skills and one of the best ways to do so is to interact with customers and other stakeholders. If your internship puts you out in the field, interacting with customers and other coworkers, you’ll be able to drastically improve on your people skills. For example, if you’re shy and an introvert, an internship at a call center or teleworking would be a great way to improve your people and communication skills.
You should also expect your college internship to be hands-on. There are exceptions, but for the most part, the most rewarding internship experiences are those in which you are challenged and engaged on a daily basis. This often results in a more enjoyable experience as well, which usually gets better results. Start looking for an internship early so you can take your time in finding and choosing one that you will enjoy and will allow you to develop your skills.
A successful internship is achievable with the right mindset. Once you have completed your internship, don’t be shy to ask for a reference letter and training evaluation from your supervisor. You can use these when applying for a job afterwards in another if not in that same company, post-graduation.
Finally, be diligent about finding people you’ve met or worked with and keeping in contact with them through Twitter, LinkedIn and email. Check in with a quick message every once in a while to keep those relationships strong. You never know, these people may be the connections to the individuals who will offer you the career of your dreams. Best of luck!