Conquent: Without Limits
Conquent: Without Limits
Kristen Fife's Blog

Let's Talk Internships

2010-11-11 09:13:44

College students should be thinking about spring internships. If they are going to be graduating seniors, hopefully they already have at least one internship under their belt. Juniors should definitely have this uppermost in their minds.

In case you hadn't heard, it's a fiercely competitive job market out there. There is still a recession going on, and unless you are graduating in the top 5% from an ivy league school, or have a job lined up after graduation your chances of landing a paying career in your field of choice are not as plentiful as they were when you started school. And while having a summer job at the local McDonald's or lifeguarding at the local pool might be a bona fide job, it isn't going to give you the leg-up over your peers. Internships can do that; they are short term jobs in the real world doing real things. If you are lucky, it is paid. But even an unpaid internship gives you valuable real-life work experience.

Most career centers should have information about internships. There are external sources you can plug into, however. Probably the most visible three that I know of are Lauren Berger, the "Intern Queen" (http://www.internqueen.com/), InternMatch (http://internmatch.com) and Vault.com's internship board. (They have changed things up a little so now you will need to go to to the job board and type do a search under "internship" as a type of employment; but at least today there were 29 pages.) http://www.vault.com/wps/portal/usa/job-search?headerAction=headerSearch

Most large companies in the US have structured internship programs. The trick is to identify the companies you are interested in working with and then start making connections. Most companies are using LinkedIn these days, but many more are realizing that the place to find top talent in the younger workforce is going to be on Doostang.com. When you are looking for company contacts using filtering, you want to look for "Campus Recruiter" as the title. Most companies that have specific roles dedicated to hiring new graduates or students use that term as opposed to "College Recruiter", to differentiate from the recruiting professionals that work *at* colleges recruiting new *students*.

But let's say you want something different, you want to structure your own opportunity? Most small businesses can use more help but don't necessarily have the funds to create an internship, so you may need to offer yourself to them as an unpaid intern. To do this you will need to work with your school to develop the outline that will allow you to receive credit for your work. The US Department of Labor has very strict guidelines for unpaid internships.

1.The training, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to what would be given in a vocational school or academic educational instruction
2.The training is for the benefit of the trainees
3.The trainees do not displace regular employees, but work under their close observation
4.The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the trainees, and on occasion the employer’s operations may actually be impeded
5.The trainees are not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the training period; and
6.The employer and the trainees understand that the trainees are not entitled to wages for the time spent in training.

There are also international opportunities, however you must be able to communicate in a foreign language fluently if you are not going to a primarily English speaking country. If you want an international experience but want to stay in North America, Canada might be a good option. They generally call internships "Co-ops".

An internship (or several!) in your field can help you become a more desirable potential employee. Many employers prefer to hire former interns after they graduate, and some may even structure their internship programs specifically as a recruiting tool. When you are interviewing, it is perfectly appropriate to ask what percentage of interns are hired after graduation, assuming a successful internship. Good luck, and start thinking about your options as early as you have decided on a career.



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