Summer Internships: a full guide

Getting experience before getting a job has become a necessity. In order to get a job, you need to have worked in a job before. While this sounds like a case of Catch-22 fear not, if you do an internship you can be much more sure to find a job rather than being the one who keeps on yelling “I’m cold” in your plane wreck of a career.NOTE: an unpaid internship is not a real internship. It’s volunteer work or a special way of getting college credit. An unpaid internship will not help your career (in fact, it most likely hurts it), see this post for details.

Why should I have one in the first place?

Getting an internship will help you get a job. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of how to take advantage of your internship and turn it into a full job. In a recent study, The National Association of Colleges and Employers found that 63.1% of paid interns received a job offer upon graduation, almost double the chances of their non-intern friends. Not only that, but the average salary for someone who took an internship in college was significantly higher (almost $15,000 higher).

Plus internships are a great way to earn a lot of money over the summer. Internships in well-established companies will pay a lot. Much more than the minimum wage paycheck that your friends will be earning lifeguarding back in their hometown. And it’s one of the few chances were you can work somewhere and a catastrophic failure won’t be the end of the world. Internships are meant to help you learn what to do (and what not to do) in a real job.

Where can I get one?

Having a job that pays a lot and lets you learn by making mistakes and helps your career sounds perfect. Now, where can I get one? Well, you can’t just find a good internship in any place, you have to look for them.

Start out by creating a portfolio of work. This may seem like something you would normally do for a class, but when it comes to getting a good internship, you have to prove that you are a hard worker and that you will be able to do the best job out of any of the candidates (similar to a job interview). Having past work or past experience (demonstrated with a good resume or LinkedIn account) will help ensure that you get the job or at the very least have something to talk about during the interview.

Once you have all that setup, use an internship search website (check with your school’s career centre if you need help). Then just be prepared to ace the interview. Come prepared with confidence, clear answers and a few wise and insightful questions about the company, its history, your interviewer’s background, and the company culture. Knock their socks off with your intelligence.

Now that I have an offer, what do I do?

Chances are, your internship offer is not in the same town as your college. And usually, that’s alright. There should be plenty of resources to help you schedule your trip out there and find a good place to live in. First off, check with your school and your school’s Facebook group. It’s quite probable that someone from school (or even from high school) may be interning in the same area and looking for a roommate. If it comes down to it (or you want to meet new people over the summer) you can ask for your company to introduce you to other interns or current employees who are looking to host interns. There are plenty of resources out there to help you find the right place to live and get you completely set-up for your internship. It’s just like college all over again.

How can I become a kick-butt intern?

The cliche “First one in, Last one out” is a cliche for a reason: it’s a timeless truth. Unless you are some form of super-genius, the best way to be a kick-butt intern is to be hardworking. This means staying as late as you possibly can and working as hard as you possibly can. Oh yeah, and stay off Facebook! Everyone knows it’s hard (especially for college students) to work for hours on end without a break, but the more endurance you can show and the better work you can provide, the more impressive you’ll become. If you’re looking for that full-time offer, that’s the best way to go.

So, what next?

When it comes down to the end of the summer, it’s time to wrap up your internship with a bang. Ask to give a presentation on the major projects you have been working on over the summer. It’s now time to knock their socks off. After giving the best presentation of your life (so far), make sure to follow up with your boss. Ask to list him/her as a reference on your resume. Or, if you’ve worked hard enough and are lucky, you may even get a full-time job offer!

About the Author:

Quinn Winters is an intern for an education company in San Francisco that provides online English tutoring for high school and college students. He’s a tech enthusiast and loves to talk Startups. For more, you can find him on Twitter.


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