"The bulk of my discovering what advertising is came on the job,"
—Mark (shown with Jill)
Even in a good economy, finding a job after college can be a daunting task.One good way to give yourself a leg up is by having an internship—a short-term job in which the primary goal is to gain experience in a specific field—during college.
An internship puts you ahead of other candidates, in both experience and skills, and can make the difference between you getting a job or not.
How an Internship Benefits You
There are several categories of internships including co-ops, fieldwork, practicums, service learning, externships, and apprenticeships.
They're often, but not always, coordinated between an employer and a university. They can:
- Result in university credit
- Be paid or unpaid
- Be found at any time of year, but especially in the summer
- Allow you to travel across the U.S. and abroad
Regardless of whether your internship allows any of those features, your internship will:
- Help you decide if you would like working in a particular field
- Help you develop your interests and refine your goals for the future
- Provide you with valuable experience that will appeal to future employers
- Help you develop business connections that will aid your job search
- Teach you about real-world work
However well your university or trade school prepares you, nothing compares with experience in the field.
Where Can You Find an Internship?
"There are several categories of internships."
Since many colleges and universities offer academic credit for internships, one great place to look for them is at your campus career or placement center.
Counselors there have experience helping students find jobs and internships and probably will have a list of possible openings. If not, they certainly can give you a start in the right direction.
Another good resource is the Internet. Many sites list internship opportunities. It also may be helpful to look into the specific internships geared toward your major. Your department's Website may have a list of internships available from alumni willing to help out students from their alma mater.
Just be sure you understand all the details and obligations that might be part of what they're offering.
Who Do You Know?
Your parents and relatives might either work in the field you're interested in or know someone who does.
I talked to my mom about my interest in an internship. She mentioned it to my uncle, who happened to know someone at the agency where I eventually got a position for the summer.
Don't stop at friends and family. Ask your professors and fellow students, too.
Professors have lots of contacts in their areas of study and will probably be happy to help. Be sure to thank them for any information and don't rush them for contact information. Give yourself plenty of time and don't wait until the last second to find an internship.
Other students already might have had an internship that they can tell you about.
Now, how do you get that job...