Congratulations… you’ve learned that securing an internship is vitally important to your career development, and are ready to take action.
However, how to obtain an internship that’s a good fit for, and your future, may be a bit unclear.
Incorporate these “Five C’s” of internship search – and bring into focus what’s most important to your career.
For some, the company aspect of your internship search can be a quick decision point, as it most likely reflects your personality and comfort zones.
If you prefer a more stable, secure environment you may choose to intern at a major corporation. If you’re ready to take more risks, and assume more responsibility – and certainly if you have entrepreneurial aspirations – a start-up is your best choice. And if your passions and career path take you into the realm of social change – seek out a non-profit.
Not sure which type of company might be the best fit? Experiment with more than one internship at varying companies, large and small. After all, it’s much better to learn what fits you best now than after you’ve chosen your career path – and invested significant time only to realize you’ve made a mistake.
Do your homework! Find the company with a culture that fits you best, and that will best take advantage of your passion, skills and work ethic.
You may seek an innovative, fast-paced company – large or small. Or you may want a more laid-back environment. Perhaps you’ll want to focus on the mentor relationship: who can guide you through your internship so you come out the other side in the best possible position.
Choose wisely… as you can be sure the recruiter will also, and there must be a match.
There has been a lot of talk lately about paid versus unpaid internships. The reality is, however, this is a very personal decision.
At YouTern, we strongly encourage employers to pay their interns a fair and competitive wage. However, we know many tempting unpaid, and perhaps beneficial, internships exist.
Our advice: choose wisely for your situation. Regardless of your financial situation, keep in mind there are many internships available that will benefit your career that do not fall into the “slave labor” category. Regardless of the sales pitch, internships of that nature never work to your benefit.
Once you’ve made your decisions regarding company, culture and cost… you must pursue your chosen path with confidence.
From the first interview, to your first day and on to your last day as an intern – carry yourself like you own the place. Learn. Lead by example. Listen.
And, be prepared to reverse mentor. You undoubtedly have multiple skills in high demand by older generations, or by those with different experience sets. Set yourself apart by being a good teacher – and student.
Networking during your internship is vitally important. Depending on your career choice, you must choose an organization that will help you expand your influence – and be prepared to take advantage of every opportunity.
With many other career paths, including social media, web development, marketing and public relations you’ll want to learn from the best. To you, that means they are already firmly entrenched in networking and have immense contacts they’ll be willing to share as you prove yourself a contributing member of the team.
The new contacts you’ll meet are vast, and will range from other interns, existing employees, management, C-level executives, vendors, customers and advisors. As you meet these new colleagues, join their networks on Linkedin and follow them on Twitter. Maintaining these online relationships can have a significant impact during this internship, and your career.
Also, remember how vitally important it is to maintain personal contact (email, phone calls, coffee meetings, etc.) with influencers after your internship. A good rule of thumb: contact your immediate supervisor/mentor and those who had a significant impact on your internship at least once every three months.
Incorporate these Five C’s – Company, Culture, Cost, Confidence and Contacts – into the search for your internship.
You’ll go in knowing you’ve found the perfect fit – and so will your new employer.
About the Author: CEO and Founder of YouTern, Mark Babbitt is a serial mentor who has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Forbes and Under30CEO.com regarding job search, career development, internships and higher education’s role in preparing emerging talent for the workforce. A keynote speaker and blogger, Mark’s contributions include Huffington Post, Bloomberg News, Switch and Shift, and Under30CEO.
Mark has been honored to be named to GenJuice’s list of “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors,” HR Examiner’s “Top 25 Trendspotters in HR” and CareerBliss’ “Top 10 Gen Y Career Experts.” Mark is currently working on two new books: “A World Gone Social: How Business Must Adapt to Survive (AMACOM, June 2014) with Ted Coine and “The Ultimate Guide to Internships (And Making Your College Years Matter Again)” (Allworth, September 2014). Contact Mark via email or on Twitter!