Graduating from college can be intimidating. You’ll be moving on from the people and place where you’ve spent four years of your life. However, what may be even more intimidating is landing your first professional job! You’ll quickly realize many entry-level job postings require experience. How do you gain experience when you’ve been in class studying for the last several years? In addition to campus involvement, one of the best ways is through internships (which often count for college credit)! Plan early in your college career to make sure your resume moves to the top of the stack following graduation. Here are ten resources for how to find internships and gain valuable experience in your chosen profession.
Who better to reach out to than the people who teach, advise and train students for their future careers? Professors make for a great resource because they have extensive professional networks. Many go to conferences, publish research and stay in contact with their former students. Alumni oftentimes have a soft spot for students from their alma mater who have the same hopes and dreams they once had! Professors can help you make connections with alumni in careers you never would have expected! Plus, professors may have worked in your intended field before switching to higher education and may have even more contacts from that time of their lives. Connect with your professors before reaching out about internship experience. The better they know you, the better they will be at steering you toward the right opportunity. Don’t forget coaches, advisors and other campus staff may have just as valuable connections and contacts!
Your campus career center is fully staffed with people whose jobs are literally to help you gain professional experience and eventually employment! Take advantage of this valuable resource. Not only can they connect you with potential internship opportunities, but they can also provide career assessments (to make sure you’re actually in the right field), help you develop a resume and prepare you for interviews. They may also help you find grants/scholarships that will help you pay for resume builders.
Career fairs are not just for getting a job. Many companies actively recruit/seek out interns at career fairs. They’re also a great place to network with professionals at a variety of companies all in one location. Get business cards, drop off your resume and talk to recruiters. If there’s someone you want to connect with later, make sure to mention that you met them at the career fair. They may remember you and this will show them that you are serious about learning more about their company.
Is there a company you really want to work for? Are you obsessed with a certain product? Do you admire the work of a professional already in your chosen field? Reach out! Cold calling refers to a practice of telemarketers reaching out by phone to sell items/services and services to people. If you are interested in gaining experience at a certain place or with a certain person, you can do the same! Reach out by phone or email and share why you are the perfect fit for their company and are interested in gaining experience. Many professionals are also receptive to showing younger people what the job truly entails through internship or job shadow experiences. It may work. It may not, but you never know what opportunities may be available without trying.
Word of mouth
Tired of telling your aunt you have no idea what your plans are for the summer? Do you have a neighbor who knows everyone’s business? Use these informal conversations and small talk to your advantage and share that you are seeking internship opportunities. Let people know what you are looking for and reap the benefits when your aunt knows somebody who knows somebody who connects you to the perfect opportunity.
Indeed, ZipRecruiter and dozens of other websites offer easy access to job and internship listings. You can search by job type, location, keywords and other criteria. If you are looking in Ohio, check out OhioMeansJobs | Ohio.gov. Your college may have its own resource and may include listings from businesses specifically seeking students from your school.
Looking for an internship? Let people know and post about it! Want to work at a certain company? Follow them. You’ll learn more about their brand and they may post about potential internships or job opportunities. The most important social media profile for career advancement is LinkedIn. Create a profile, update it with professional content often and use it regularly to expand your network.
Connect with alumni from your college (or even high school). Your shared background and educational experiences serve as an excellent icebreaker. Professors or your college’s alumni office may be able to connect with graduates who work in your field.
Want to make a difference while gaining resume fodder? Look into volunteer and service opportunities such as Peace Corps, AmeriCorps or Mennonite Voluntary Service. While you gain skills, these programs may also allow you to explore new locales and gain new experiences. You’ll forgo a typical salary, but they may include tuition assistance, stipends and/or housing accommodations.
How to find internships? Yourself!
Can’t find the perfect internship? Assess your strengths and skills and explore avenues for gaining experience on your own. Create an Etsy account and sell your designs as stickers and t-shirts. Pitch story ideas to your local newspaper and see if they’ll hire you as a stringer. Develop a business plan, flex your entrepreneurial skills and become your own boss!
At Bluffton University
The Center for Career & Vocation is focused on ensuring you are both career ready and purpose led. Through the CCV, Bluffton students learn more about their interests and strengths, identify their passions and purpose, and explore majors and minors. Starting in their first-year, Bluffton students are encouraged to take advantage of College Central Network, a gateway designed to help you maintain your resume, build your career portfolio, and search for jobs and internships.