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Finding (and Keeping) the Internship You Deserve

Wed, Aug 4, 2010

Internship Information

There are two words that repeatedly follow job descriptions: experience necessary. While internships are a great way to gain experience in a particular field or learn about the working world in general, finding—and succeeding in—an internship is no easy task.

After successfully completing two internships in two different cities, I’d love to say there’s a simple, step-by-step process one can follow that will lead to landing an internship. However, internships are not handed out on a silver platter. The search is never easy, but here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way:

Use Connections

When beginning your internship search, start locally. Think about family friends, friend’s parents or another person you may know who is already working within the field you are interested in, and don’t be shy to ask them if they ever hire interns. Even if one person does not have a position for you, they might know someone that needs additional help or frequently takes on interns.

Work With Your School

Working with your university or school is another great way to find internships. Talk to your academic advisor or the student employment office on campus and ask if they know of companies or employers that need interns. Many employers and companies have a good relationship with universities that they use to find eligible intern candidates.

Surf the Web

While using the Internet to find an internship will most likely generate the greatest amount of positions in the least amount of time, remember to be careful: websites like Craigslist are notoriously known for their scams. Internships.com posts available internships continuously, as does Monster.com and Experience.com. For editorial and communication internships, Ed2010.com lists plenty of experience-worthy, interesting positions.

Show Up and Stand Out

Once you get your internship, just showing up every day will not allow you to walk away with the valuable experience or references you need. As an intern, it is important to go above and beyond your job description in order to be remembered.

Take Risks

My first internship was as an editorial assistant in a market I had never encountered before: Information Technology. While I walked in knowing next to nothing, I walked away knowing more than I could have ever imagined. So don’t be afraid to take a risk, and never rule out a position just because it’s not exactly what you wanted. Although it was challenging, now I have a great rise-to-the-occasion experience to talk about in future job interviews.

Ask Questions

Throughout my internship as an editorial assistant, I learned to never be afraid to ask questions. It is much better to nag your boss with uncertainties than to do an assignment completely wrong. Second, continuously ask for ways you can improve. Your boss will respect you for your humility, and the advice will help you be a better worker. If you find yourself tempted to surf the web during your free time, ask your boss if there are any additional things he or she needs you to do during your spare time. And never settle for “decent” work. Go above and beyond your intern duties. Your boss will remember your efforts and give you a great recommendation.

Follow All (Annoying) Instructions

My second internship was working in a small public relations company in New York City as an assistant to one of the managing partners. There, I learned many things, such as: your boss is never wrong. No matter how silly he or she might sound, it is important to remember that they are the boss, and you must follow orders. Just because calling an editor five times in a row may sound stupid to you, it may be necessary for your company. So bite your tongue, and do as your told.

Give Everything Your All

Another important thing to remember is that even if you receive mundane tasks, it is important to complete them as though they are extremely important. Showing your employer you have a good work ethic even during a boring day will put you over the top. In a small company, all of your efforts will be seen and heard by everyone, so pull your weight and make yourself appreciated.

Learn From Your Experience

My job in the world of public relations also taught me that I am not interested in pursuing a career in PR. And while it was rough to spend six months of my life figuring this out, I would rather figure it out now than a few years later down the road. Internships are a great way to figure out what you like and also what you don’t like. So if you find yourself disliking your internship, remember that internships are for preparing you for the future—and in the future, you can try pursuing something else.

By Erin Kelly. Erin is a junior Journalism Major at Northeastern University and is pursuing a Minor in Communications. She has completed two previous internships in Boston and New York City and is always looking for followers on Twitter@ekelly89.
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