Now that school is back in session and summer internships have wound down, it’s time for fall internships to begin. There are many things you need to know about internships; these five are a good start:
1. How To Get An Internship
Getting an internship can be easier than finding a full-time job, but not always. This mostly depends on in which industry you are looking to work. For example,Wall Street internships typically go to students in “core” schools targeted by that company (read: Ivy League or equivalent) or with close relationships to the management. For startups, your school is less important than your persistence, interest, and ability.
>> Here are some tips to get the internship you want:
Create And Grow Your Digital Identity
Make sure your social networks are up to date and reflect who you are. Twitter, Linkedin, and About.me should be the social networks of most importance. If you are looking for a job at a tech company likeFacebook or Google, being active on their platforms is a must as well. Want to go into entertainment? It makes sense to be active on Twitter and engaged with followers. Just make sure everything is up to date and appropriate on these major social networks, because whether you want to believe it or not, your prospective employers are watching.
Create Content To Grow Your Blog And Enhance Your Digital Identity
If you are looking for a sales and trading job on Wall Street, it’s a good idea to keep a blog and write about the trades you find interesting. If you want to go into venture capital, you will immediately be asked what companies you are excited about and what upcoming trends you see over the next few years. When you have a blog and you are creating content (whether original, or elaborating on other people’s content), if you have something compelling to contribute, people will find it valuable. It also augments tip #1.
Networking is the single most important part of the internship search. I would venture to guess that 8 out of 10 jobs are found via a personal connection or recommendation. Make sure you attend networking events for the industry you are looking to break into. If you hang out where the industry folks hang out, it will take time, but you will eventually become part of that industry.
There are a few pieces to know when identifying the right people to speak with in each industry. It’s not always the people in the news who can make the most difference for you. First you need to decide on a specific field, and start doing research. Look at the leading companies and the individuals there who can help you. Once you have your list, get in touch with them. You need to find out where they hang out (i.e. industry events) or write them a concise and powerful email about who you are and why they should give you the time of day.
2. Internships Help You Find Out What You DON’T Want To Do
One of the biggest things I learned when I interned on Wall Street and at a big media company was that these jobs weren’t what I wanted to do with my life. Interning helped me discover this before I wasted two or more years of my life working in the wrong field for me. Anytime I speak to college students, I recommend that they go diversify their internships. This way they can discover what they are passionate about before they fully enter the workforce.
3. Your Internship May Lead To A Job, But Your Focus Should Be On Learning
If you are in school and still have a few years to go, your focus should be on learning. Learning about the industry, learning about what excites you about a particular job, learning about what sucks about the job. And learning any hard skills that may be necessary for the job. The internship may lead to a job once you graduate, but learning should always come first.
4. Your Passion Is Weighted As Much As Your Resume
This is true for every industry, but especially for startups. I would hire an energetic and passionate-about-the-industry student who went to community college over a typical Ivy Leaguer in a heartbeat. I think that if you have a true passion for a company, it will shine.
5. Sometimes Unpaid Is Worth It
Not always, but there are scenarios in which working unpaid ends up paying off big. I think if you want to prove yourself to a company that doesn’t currently have a position for you, going the unpaid route for a month or two to prove yourself is a viable option. The goal here is to make them believe that they won’t be able to live without you if you end up leaving. If you get to that point, they will need to make you an offer and bring you on full time.
While there are many other topics that can be discussed pertaining to internships, this list is the beginning of your education. Getting an internship also has a lot to do with chance: being in the right place at the right time. You need to make sure you put yourself in a position to get lucky by attending networking events, reaching out to folks at companies that are of interest, etc. You never know when you’ll get the right opportunity.
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Comments or questions are welcome.