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How to choose a college internship

graduate job search strategies
In today's overcrowded job market, internships can be crucial for launching your career. 

They not only help you to acquire new skills and experience, but also allow you to establish your career direction and get to know professionals who are already part of your industry. Sometimes, an internship can be turned into a full-time and decidedly serious job offer. 

Tips for making the most of an internship -- 

Research your industry
If you've already been eyeing a sector or two, now it's time to see whether your preferred career path is really for you. An internship is an occasion for making sure that your character, personality and preferences could work in a specific professional environment. First, you should carefully research your industry to see who are its big time players and which company could grant you a real insight into the sector.

Take finances into account
Undertaking an unpaid internship can take a toll on your finances. As a college student, you've got a lot of prospective expenses to consider before entering into such a commitment. When looking through options available for your career path, you're bound to find one or two that offer some kind of financial benefits. Depending on your situation, you might be best opting for the one that promises more benefits.

Internships can provide learning opportunities that can help you land a career.

Focus on internships that offer learning opportunities
The best internships are those that offer you the opportunity to work closely with a leader in the field and that provide you with real, hands-on experience. 

When browsing internships offers, see whether companies will assign a mentor/supervisor for you and whether you'll be working on a specific project or program. This way, you'll make sure that the internship won't just be you mechanically preparing coffee, but a real learning opportunity – teaching you something you'd never get to learn in class.

college internship
Ask others about their internships.
Doing so can keep you from
making a mistake.
Ask around about the internship
It's great to get recommendations from past interns whether they worked for the company you or considering or not. If they were satisfied with their internship and it helped them to grow professionally, you might be steered towards a similar internship opportunity. 

If you've been eyeing a particular opportunity, but past interns have nothing good to say about it, you can let it go with no hard feelings. Problems that can arise during an internship can vary from poor management to overwhelming responsibility to mind-numbing boredom.

Talk to students who are currently taking the internship that you are considering – their opinion will also help you make the right decision. After all, they are experiencing the good and the bad right now while it's still fresh in their minds.

Proceed with caution
When choosing an internship, remember to carefully read the job description – it's more informative than you'd suspect. Not only does it convey an idea about the company culture, but it also shows you what exactly the company is offering, what it will expect of you and what your role will be in helping its project come to life.

college internship
Consider the financial consequences
of taking on an internship ...
particularly an unpaid one.
Keep in mind that companies aren't just hiring a warm body for their internship. They expect you to be productive and proactive, so take the position seriously. Work hard. Word smart and accomplish more and better than is expected of you. By taking such steps, you will have a much better chance of securing recommendations and landing a permanent position with the company. 

Consider the freedom-to-responsibility ratio
Depending on the company and sector, some internships offer you more freedom and responsibility than others. 

Before you choose an internship, make sure you have an idea about what you want your experience to look like. Are you looking forward to being more independent, or would you rather help someone else in realizing a project? Do you want to be part of a big production or a small, manageable undertaking?

Think about your schedule
Some internships offer relatively flexible schedules, allowing students to participate in other activities like classes, sports or other responsibilities. 

If you know that your schedule won't allow for a full-time internship, take this into account at the beginning of your search. 

Sometimes, internship offers mention schedule flexibility, other times you can negotiate your schedule yourself.

college internship

See whether the company hires its interns for permanent positions
After spotting your dream internship, have a look at the company’s politics toward its interns – ask around to see how many of them were later hired as full-time employees. Give special attention to companies with long-term potential.

The bottom line: Consider an internship ... it could get you some much needed experience. 

Guest post by Kelly Smith, a dedicated tutor and writer. She develops her passion at Career FAQs, one of the leading providers of career and educational resources in Australia, where she provides career advice for students and job seekers.

Thanks, Kelly! Both Kelly's company (Career FAQs in Australia) and WiserU.com are passionate about helping you land a career. If we can be of help to you at WiserU.com, let us know. Visit the Services page to learn how we can help you. -- Kathy


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