Written by: Crystal Vietmeier, Assistant Director of Career Development, Internships and Experiential Learning – Chatham University, Pittsburgh, PA
Reviewed and edited by: Cara Gillotti, Senior Copywriter, Marketing and Communications – Chatham University, Pittsburgh, PA
Studies show that 80% of jobs are landed through networking, and an internship is a great way to network your way into a job. But why else do an internship?
An internship provides a better understanding of what is expected in your field of interest and can also reaffirm or change your decision to pursue a career in that field. The hands-on experience will enhance your “soft skills” that are essential to any work place, as well as your knowledge and skills within your field. Having the opportunity to utilize these skills ultimately helps you to gain confidence in your abilities and to speak about your accomplishments with potential employers. An internship provides you with the opportunity to learn from and network with professionals in a real-life environment. Ultimately, internships will make you more marketable to employers, as this is certainly what they are looking for on resumes – relevant experience.
Now that you understand the importance of doing an internship (or more than one, if possible), let’s talk about how to find one. Finding an internship can be daunting. Just like a job, the #1 way to find and secure an internship is through networking. Wherever you go, whomever you meet, always keep in mind the true saying of “You never know who knows who!” Make your internship search a part of your everyday, natural conversations with those around you, so people know to keep you in mind! So to whom should you be speaking about potential internship opportunities? Here are just a few ideas:
- Your Academic Advisor or Professors who will have a good sense of what kind of experiential learning you should be seeking, and may have ideas that relate to your major or your career interests. They were professionals in your field at one time (or still are) and most likely have contacts for you to network with.
- Your Friends and Classmates who can be great sources of information about internships because sites often seek recommendations of future interns from current and past interns!
- Your Family Members because they have connections in the community that you may not be aware of but which might offer you exactly the opportunity you are seeking.
- Your Community or Religious Organization that is typically made up of members from all types of professions and backgrounds. Your co-members may have direct or indirect connections that are within the company or organization you are interested in interning with.
- Your Current and Previous Work/Volunteer Supervisors who, whether in your field or not, have years of professional experience under their belt with many lasting connections that they’ve developed throughout their career. What better way to meet professionals in your field than to volunteer with a relevant organization in your community?
- Your Institution’s and Community’s Networking Events where you have the opportunity GIVEN to you to meet employers and alumni within your field. Many of these professionals are secretively scanning/seeking candidates for their internship positions at these events!
- Your Career Development Office because they know where students have interned in the past and which internship sites are currently seeking interns. They may also be able to connect you with alumni in your field!
Last piece of advice: While you are enrolled in a college or university, it is critical that you take advantage of all the programs and services offered by your career development office. Career advisors are the professionals who will not only provide you with fantastic networking opportunities, but will also give you the resources, tools, and strategies for success in your career path – starting with your internship experience! Internships have the ability to land you a job after graduation, directly or indirectly, so be intentional with your internship choice, and be sure to treat it as a full-time interview and real job!