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Next Step Academy | 2016 February

How To: Find A Great Internship

February 23rd, 2016 by

Today, internships are an integral part of most college undergrad programs. It’s more than likely you’ll need to complete at least one internship in order to graduate. Need some guidance on finding a great internship? You’ve come to the right place.

eye-15699_1920Where To Start:                                                                                    Part of the problem is knowing where to look. Start by speaking to your internship director, they usually know which employers offer internships. Your internship director will also need to approve your internship before you begin, so requesting information from them could save you a bit of time. If, for whatever reason, you’re internship director is  unable to provide you with information, make an appointment with the student career-center. Not only can they help you find an internship, they’ll help you put together a resume that aligns with the internship you’re looking for.

If you feel confident and want to search independently, there are  fantastic online resources. Websites like indeed.com, monster.com and CareerBuilder.com are not just for job hunters or job recruiters, they’re for anyone looking for professional experience. You can even search specifically for internships in your local area. If you’re looking for internships in the non-profit market check out idealist.org. Maybe you’re feeling adventurous? GlobalExperience.com can help you find internships all around the globe!

Do Your Research:                                                                                                                                   So, you’ve found a handful of internship positions you’re interested in. You’ve submitted your resume and applications, and now you’re waiting to hear back. This is the time to do some research. You don’t need to launch a CSI: Cyber investigation for this; keep it simple. Visit each companies’ website and their social media.

Here’s what to look for: What’s their mission statement? What’s their work-place culture like? What type of clients do they work with? This information helps you develop a better sense of the employer and if it’s a place you’d like to be a part of.

Ask Questions:                                                                                                                                   Because you’re awesome, you’ve landed interviews for all the internships you applied to. You’re prepared for the questions they’ll ask you, but what questions are you prepared to ask them? An interview is an excellent opportunity to find out more about the employer. Here are some questions you may want to ask: What kind of projects have your interns been part of? Have you hired any of your interns? How many different departments do interns get to work with?  Answers to these kinds of questions will help you ultimately decide which internship is the best fit for you. Be prepared to ask the questions that matter to you.

Your fellow classmates and school alumni are also great resources. If you know anyone who interned with an employer you’re considering, talk to them about their experience. Your internship director may also be able to share other insightful experiences with you.

It’s never too early to start thinking about the types of internships that interest you. You may even want to do more than one! If you have any other questions about internships or related topics, don’t hesitate to ask! Send an email to info@nextstepacademy.com or contact me directly at jackie@nextstepacademy.com.

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Internships: The good, the bad and the ugly

February 16th, 2016 by

Internship concept with young woman working on a laptop

Two popular anecdotes dominate the world of college internships. In one tale, the intern is a scapegoat used for coffee runs and menial, thankless tasks. He or she eventually gets fed up, dumps the coffee on the copy machine and storms out with pride. The other tale describes the Cinderella story of a lowly intern who gets his or her big break on the second day, and ends up running the company by 23. While these stories may be founded on true, albeit rare, experiences, there are far more tales to tell with numerous realistic complications and rewards. Let’s be honest, some internships are good, some are bad and some are down right ugly.

The Good: Ideally, you land an internship in the “good” category the first time. The best kinds of internship are ones that allow you to take on meaningful responsibilities, contribute to the team, learn new skills and make strong professional connections. You need to take action to ensure you end up with a valuable internship like this, they won’t just fall into your lap. Apply for positions that align with your professional and ethical interests at organizations you would actually want to work with. When your internship comes to an end, maintain the relationships you created with your supervisor and co-workers. You might end up with a mentor, references, or even a future job offer.

The Bad: Sometimes you don’t get the ideal internship and you wind up somewhere you don’t want to be; you’re not learning anything of value, the work consists of those dreaded menial tasks, or you may just be bored. If this happens, talk to your school’s director of internships about possible solutions. Chances are, that person will urge you to ask your internship supervisor for more responsibility. You are as much of an asset to the organization as they are to you. If the work you want simply doesn’t exist, consider moving on to another internship. You are not expected to stick it out in a position you aren’t learning from. If you do decide the best solution is to move on, be respectful when you leave the organization; never burn bridges. While the work may not be what you were hoping for, those connections you made could help you in your future career.

The Ugly: It’s rare to find an organization that hires interns they don’t want around, but it does happen. If you find yourself in an uncomfortable or degrading situation (the boss expects you to take his adult kid out on a dinner date, your co-workers expect you to go through hazing, etc.), then it’s time to leave. This is a situation in which your comfort and safety are far more important than maintaining professional connections. Still be respectful when you leave the position, but don’t hesitate to leave that ugly internship behind. Consider talking to the organization’s human resource department and notify your school’s internship director to save another student from being subjected to an ugly internship.

While not all internships are perfect, you can learn a lot about the type of position and work culture you do enjoy by being as involved as possible, but don’t settle for an internship that isn’t benefiting you. There is no glory in suffering through a bad or ugly internship. The goal at the end of your internship is to come out wiser and more prepared for your future, with a better understanding of what the career is really like. So keep an eye out for the the markers of a good internship, a bad one and an ugly one.

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