PREPARING FOR AN INTERNSHIP
From someone whose been there..
According to The Free Dictionary, an intern is “a student or recent graduate undergoing supervised practical training”. Unfortunately in the economy we’re a part of, many people define interns as “work slaves”. Fortunately, I was lucky to have an amazing internship experience, while I was still pursuing my undergraduate degree. Unfortunately, many my age have not — especially people finding internships within the fashion industry. I’ve learned through research and a close friend of mine (who interned for a total of two weeks at a prestigious fashion PR firm) that a large majority of interns are treated quite poorly, unpaid and sent to do tasks that would certainly not help them grow in their field of study (except maybe in figuring out different subway routes around NYC). I don’t mean to crack on fashion though, there’s a LOT of businesses that treat their interns this way. My suggestion? DON’T TAKE these internships & if you get involved in one, run — run fast and early. There are PLENTY of businesses and organizations out there looking to hire interns to do REAL work. Although (as mine was) many are unpaid, you should be doing actual work, with an actual supervisor correcting your mistakes and helping you to learn about the so called “real world”.
Finding Available Internships — Where to go:
- School Boards: Lots of schools will list internship opportunities on bulletin boards or in their career services center.
- Newspaper: Check news paper listings in the job ads section.
- Social Networking: Follow your favorite companies on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You’d be surprised at how often they often post about open positions.
- Job Boards: Online job boards are often helpful and updated daily.
- Monster College: Monster College is nearly identical to the regular Monster job search engine, but it’s geared towards college students.
- Urban Interns: Urban Interns is one of my personal favorites. If you live in or near a popular city, Urban Interns is a helpful tool that allows you add your resume skills to your profile and enables you to search for internships in your area of interest. It also lets companies find & contact you!
- Craigslist: I don’t know why people are so sketched out by Craigslist (OK maybe I SORTOF understand) — it’s honestly been a God-send for me in looking for work. REAL people who need REAL help post there daily.. scratch that.. HOURLY.
Choosing an Internship: Once you find a place you think you’d like to intern for, do some research..
- Reviews: Look up reviews online from previous interns and see what at least five of them have to say. One person may have had a great experience compared to four other people’s horrible ones. Figure out what made these experiences amazing or awful.
- LinkedIn Search: Sign onto your handy dandy LinkedIn account (that I know you all have, right?) and search for some people in the company. Do these people look like those you can see yourself working with? What are their strengths, skills and hobbies? Do they compare to yours?
- Company Contact: Contact one of those people on LinkedIn — even if it’s an intern. Let them know you’re interested in their company and ask a few questions — people love to talk about two things; themselves and their work. Generally, most people are thrilled you’ve reached out to them.
- Company Research: This one may seem a bit obvious, but actually RESEARCH the company — find out all you can about it BEFORE you decide to go in for an interview. In fact, do it before you write your cover letter. This way, you’ll know what YOU can bring to THEM. People are always looking for the “me” factor.
- Don’t Stop at One: Find multiple places you’d be interested in interning. Don’t stop at one, because A) you may not be offered the job or B) it could wind up being the exact opposite of what you expect — leaving you without any new knowledge. With back ups, you’ll be able to move freely to the next option.
- Get creative: Move outside your comfort zone. Never thought of interning for a non-profit? How about a sports team? Magazine? Publishing company? Local Yoga Studio? Keep your options open. SO many people are looking for interns and reliable opportunities are everywhere.
Good luck on your search and feel free to send me any other helpful tips to share!