Internships and How to Manage Them

By Lisa Correu, Principal/Job Search Advocate, AfterSchool Career Workshops

These days it’s practically required that you have at least two internships during or right after college. Employers will always go for entry-level candidates with productive and relevant intern experiences over those who just didn’t bother and more and more are hiring from the intern pool. So let’s assume you got a fabulous spot with a great company or organization. How can you milk this puppy for all it’s worth?

  • Don’t just spend your days in one department or office. Speak with as many people as you can in the company. Talk to the front desk, they know a lot about what goes on, ask a senior manager about her job path and get some advice. Seek out the entry-level people and get some tips from them, too. Ask how they succeeded at their job searches.
  • Don’t wait to be handed an assignment. Ask for any additional projects or tasks and offer to help with anything and everything you can.
  • Volunteer to help with charity efforts or company programs like recycling or putting new business packets together. This can put you together with people for large amounts of time so you can use your charm and make some friends.
  • Join the softball team; this is a great and informal way to get to know all levels of company staff. Ask as many questions as you can get away with and don’t even think about saying yes to that beer.
  • You should also add as many names as possible to the contact database you’re starting and remember to enter both the job related information as well as any kind of casual stuff that you can call up later to keep an elevator conversation going without being creepy.
  • Before you leave take time to visit the human resources department and make a great impression there. Email your resume to the director or internal recruiter and include the great reference letter you got from your internship manager.
  • Stay in contact with your internship manager and drop him or her an email now and then. They’ll remember you and you’ll also know if they leave their current position, which could potentially increase your hiring chances as you now have a contact at a new organization.

Internships are much more than fetching coffee and making lunch reservations. Many companies use their intern programs to spot future talent and spend that time measuring the abilities of a potential hire. Then there's the added benefit of confirming that you're on the right career path. But if you do discover that you absolutely hate advertising or accounting you'll know that, too, so you can make adjustments.  And if you are asked to get coffee, make sure you do it with a smile, ask if they take sugar and don't bitch about it on Facebook.

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