It is no secret that college life can be overwhelming. Students often have to balance grades, friends, family, and in many cases, work. With so much going on, it can be easy to ignore the importance of gaining professional experience via internships. However, in today’s economy, it is vital that students make internships a top priority before graduation if they wish to find a career-driven position after college.
Internships provide a glimpse into the working world, offering the opportunity to learn about an industry or trade. They help guide one into a career they hope to work in—or help decide if that’s the career path to take. One can intern as early as high school, and graduate students like soon-to-be doctors essentially intern as part of their career path. Nowadays, almost no one becomes a professional in their field without starting out as some sort of intern.
What a student has to keep in mind is that internships are real work. Looking into opportunities and application deadlines is important but one has to make sure that they can juggle an internship along with other responsibilities like school, part-time job, or extracurricular activities. Contrary to popular belief, interns don’t just get coffee. It’s actually a big commitment.
So you know you need them and you know you’re ready for one. Where do you look?
Career Resource Centers or guidance counselors are a great place to start. Opportunity is built in a network, and every student has teachers and counselors built into their network at their school. If you have a teacher or professor who you admire, ask them to help you. If they’ve been teaching a few years they can probably guide you in the right direction.
There are many internship opportunities aimed at specific demographics and industries as well. There are organizations dedicated to helping women find internships in STEM, getting Latinxs in the news, and making sure men are still visible in education. A quick Google search should open a lot of doors.
Also, just look around and don’t be afraid to ask. Find a local business related to your field of study and inquire about potential internship opportunities. The position may not be paid but they would be happy to have the help and you’ll get a closer look and gain valuable knowledge. If you’re interested in marketing and there’s a new ice cream store down the block, ask them if you could help. If you really like your doctor and you’re thinking about being a pediatrician, ask if you can shadow them. Even if they say no they might lead you to another opportunity.
When looking for an internship you should keep an open mind and do your research. Be open to moving away, be open to applying to university summer programs, and be open to doing something outside of your comfort zone. If you hope to study business and you land an unpaid intern position at your dream company, take the opportunity. A foot in the door is valuable and it will be worth it in the long run.
To find internship opportunities, visit internships.com.
By Gabriella Nuñez