Posted April 19, 2013 by

Internships: Making your college job pay even more

An intern with her superiors

An intern with her superiors. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Completing an internship can look great on a job application — It proves that you are gaining experience and motivated to learn more about the business you have chosen as your life-long career. But as internships have become harder to find in recent years, many students are turning the tables. Instead of trying to turn their internship into a job, they are turning their college job into an internship.

Why become an intern?

If you are already working in a college job that falls within your chosen field, you might wonder why you should transform that into an internship. The reason is simple: An internship can give you experience in career paths you haven’t explored before, thus giving you a well-rounded view of the business. By shadowing those in the executive branch, learning about the marketing department or venturing into sales, the internship can give you hands-on experience that you might not have gotten in your college job.

An internship can also help you decide if the job you think you want is one that truly suits you. For example, being an intern to a partner in a law firm might light the fire of law school ambition, or it might lead you to decide that a different business is more your style. In this case, the real-world experience could help solidify your career goals.

No matter your choice of career path, interning can be an excellent networking tool that can help you in future job searches. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) found that among the graduating class of 2012, 55 percent of graduates had internship or co-op experience, and 51 percent of interns were offered a job when their internship was over.

Turning a job into internship gold

If your company doesn’t offer internships, you could try to create your own. A 2010 article by The Wall Street Journal pointed out that larger businesses have been downsizing their formal internship programs or ending them altogether in recent years. Now, some businesses are beginning to sing a different tune. According to NACE’s 2012 Internship & Co-op Survey, businesses were looking to increase their internship hires by over 8 percent last summer. Enterprising students realize that now could be the time to take the situation into their own hands by creating internships that suit their career goals.

Want to create your own internship? Here’s how:

1.    Do your research. Though you might already know some information about your company, dig deeper. Look into the various positions available for interns within the organization. If there aren’t any internships available, consider how you might create your own. Which department could use your services?

2.    Make your plan. What would your internship look like? Determine how many hours you are available for interning and which departments are a good fit for your skills. Brainstorm about how you can contribute to the team in any number of departments, list the projects you could initiate and complete, and develop clear learning objectives.

3.    Present yourself. Dust off your resume — though you might first approach your immediate supervisor, you could wind up interviewing with someone who isn’t familiar with the work you have done thus far. Approach the internship opportunity with confidence, and be prepared to show the interviewer how you can improve their company.

4.    Get creative. Sometimes creating an internship means offering services the company didn’t realize they needed. For instance, if you are pursuing a degree in graphic design but your company outsources for such services, point out that you could handle that for them, thus keeping the work in-house and saving money for them while you get valuable experience.

5.    Go for it! Request an interview with the person who can give you the green light to create an internship. Come prepared with a clear list of reasons why your internship would benefit both you and the company. Offer an outline of learning objectives and potential projects you could do that would enhance your experience and leave the company with something tangible to show for your time as an intern.

Keep in mind that some businesses offer internships only if you are receiving college credit in return. If this is the case, make sure your school offers a credit-for-internship program before taking the plunge into converting your college job into an internship.

Internships differ from a college job in that they allow you to learn about parts of the company that you might not have been exposed to in your usual position. By learning more about the company and proving that you have skills they need, you could gain the potential to become more attractive to both your company and competitors, perhaps even paving the way to more job offers upon graduation.

About the Author:

Shannon Dauphin Lee has been writing professionally for almost two decades on a wide variety of topics, including medical and health issues, education, home repair and relationships. She is the author of several published novels.

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Posted in Career Advice, Career Management, Getting Experience, Internships, Research | Tagged Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,