In the current job market, landing your dream job has become increasingly more difficult. With the cost of living rising at a steady increase, most employers won’t hire entry-level employees without at least two years of experience.
Coming straight out of college and entering the “real world” can be tough. How can a college graduate have two years of experience straight out of undergraduate? This is where internships come in.
An internship is a trainee in an organization who works to gain experience in a particular field. Internships are a great way to give yourself a competitive edge, network, and immerse yourself in your field of study. But sometimes, landing internships can be as competitive as landing an entry-level job. So how does a college student stand out among his or her peers to get that dream internship?
Meet Megan McKinstry, a senior from Dunwoody, Georgia, majoring in public relations. At just 21 years old, Megan has had an impressive four internships. When asked how she landed these internships, Megan stressed the importance of gaining pre-internship experience, networking, and having strong relationships with professors.
McKinstry noticed that many internships sought writing experience. “I decided to become a writer for Spoon University, a college food blog, because I knew becoming a published writer would look good on resumes,” McKinstry said. Once she had that desired experience, she said internships were easier to acquire.
“My job interviewers were impressed with my published writing. It’s an easy way to get ahead that many people don’t think about” McKinstry says. Another way to get pre-internship experience include having a job, even unrelated to your desired internship field.
“I worked consistently throughout high school, at a restaurant. Even though it’s not related to public relations, I feel it shows I possess a strong work ethic” says McKinstry.
Another valuable tool is networking. “The most recent internship I had was a connection from a fellow public relations field. She mentioned my name to her supervisor, and her supervisor hired me” McKinstry says.
Networking is one of the most important tools in the professional world. Some estimate that upwards of 85 percent of jobs are filled from networking. Networking can be accomplished by attending career fairs, which are held frequently on many college campuses.
Having Strong Relationships with Professors
Finally, McKinstry attributes success to knowing her professors really well. “Don’t be afraid to go to office hours!” She says. “My freshman year, I learned the importance of getting to know your professors. I had a professor write me a killer letter of recommendation for an internship, and ended up getting it. My supervisor gushed about how great my reference was.”
Professors may seem scary, but they are there to help you succeed! If you fail a test, go to their office hours to see what you did wrong. Most professors will be more than happy to help you if you are struggling. Building that bond will make them more inclined to write you a letter of recommendation.
While there is no golden set of rules to land your dream internship, these three steps will definitely step up your resume and give you a competitive edge. Now go out there and get that internship!