By Kevin Duffy
Internships. We all need them, and we all want them. The School of Journalism requires that you have at least one under your belt before you can graduate. Other schools, such as Ball State, require two. It can be an intimidating process for those with little to no experience in the professional world. How can someone barely out of high school capture someone’s attention and want to bring them on board?
I was in that position a little over a year ago, and found that a few hints that proved to be very helpful in capturing that coveted first internship.
- Be bold. If you have little working experience going into the search, you may think that you need to set your bar low, and automatically count out the competitive internships that seem out of reach. Don’t do that to yourself.
I saw a brief advertisement for the Indiana State Senate internship program. It intrigued me, and I decided to apply. Throughout the process, I had little doubt that I would be rejected; it was mainly given to upperclassmen, and those with law or political science majors. To my surprise, I was given the internship. Apply everywhere; you may be surprised where you’ll get a bite.
- Beef up your credentials. Many seem to limit “experience” to other jobs and internships in the past. This leads to a dilemma: I can’t get a job without any experience, and I can’t get any experience without a job. But no matter what you do in life, you come out of it with experience.
If you’re smart, you can find a way to make every experience say something positive about yourself. Have you worked drive-thru since you were 16 to pay for a car? That shows you’re driven (no pun intended) and hard-working. Lead a bible study? You know how to communicate effectively and lead a group discussion. Taken any technical skill classes? List them. If you feel you need more, take the opportunity to attend the free software classes offered by UITS, read books relevant to your field or take up a useful hobby.
- Network. It’s a dirty word to some who may not have been exposed to it yet firsthand. The majority of people we interact with are our peers, and they’re not exactly in the position to give us a job. How are we supposed to meet people in the professional world?
Just by being on a college campus, we are given a wonderful amount of networking opportunities. Get to know your professors, your fellow students and people you volunteer with. Professors are great for reference letters, as well. Let them know when you are on the market for a job or internship. It doesn’t have to be some awkward, forced process. Networking is something you should naturally do as you move forward in your career and meet new people.
This is by no means comprehensive. But it should clear some misconceptions for those entering the internship market for the first time. Good luck!