For students and recent graduates, the right internship can be a game-changer when it comes to landing that first job. As the pandemic has turned many practical internships into virtual opportunities over the past two years, as more companies welcome employees back into the office, internships are once again becoming an area of focus. A recent Harris Poll survey, commissioned by Express Employment Professionals, found that 44% of companies intend to hire interns in 2022 and 94% plan to hire these interns full-time or part-time after the internship. .
But some students don’t realize how early many companies start the summer internship process, says Nadia Ibrahim-Taney, career coach and assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati. At larger companies and those with formal programs, it is not uncommon for applications to be due in October or November for the following summer.
First things first: “Don’t panic,” says careers counselor Jill Tipograph, founder of Early Stage Careers, which offers career coaching for students and graduates. ” We saw [that] recruiting interns this year is not what companies thought it would be,” she says. The pandemic, changing workplace norms, a tight and tumultuous labor market, and even supply chain issues and other disruptions have all affected companies’ hiring practices.
If you’re one of those students who missed previous deadlines but still want to get some on-the-job experience this summer, don’t worry. Opportunities are still available to you. Here are some ideas:
Start with school resources
One of the best places to start might be your school, says Tipograph. Stop by your school’s career services office and ask if the team knows of any last-minute opportunities. Additionally, professors may have information about research opportunities or other projects, part-time jobs or even freelance research projects, she adds. If you did well in a particular class or know any professors or teaching assistants who work in subjects related to your major, ask them if they know of any opportunities or have advice, she suggests.
Be active on LinkedIn
It’s also a good time to start building your LinkedIn profile if you haven’t already, says Ibrahim-Taney. Build your network of contacts by connecting with people you know, following companies you might want to work for, and joining groups that represent your interests. Post relevant content and participate in group discussions. You can also use LinkedIn to let your network know that you are looking for internship opportunities. LinkedIn also has a job search function which may have internship opportunities.
While we often think of internship opportunities as the domain of larger companies or organizations, small businesses or one-person offices may also need help, says Ibrahim-Taney. If you’re a business major, working at a small financial services firm or assisting a consultant over the summer might give you more hands-on experience than working at a large corporation. So if you’re coming home for the summer without any industry-related jobs, research related small businesses and reach out to them, she says. When an organization is smaller, you may have the opportunity to have a bigger impact.
Focus on independent skill development
Another great way to learn valuable skills over the summer is to create your own skill-building boot camp. Tipograph suggests analyzing the types of skills you’ll need for the job you want. Then look for ways to build them yourself. For example, most marketing internships will require some type of analytical skills. So, turn to online training centers to learn more about analytics and take a course. Build a portfolio of work and show how you have analyzed and improved your own analyses. Learn about related software and how to use it.
“Over 60% of employers say college graduates lack the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in an entry-level position. So that means going back and looking for skills to make sure you develop them,” she says.
Working without pay is always a controversial topic. Many argue that unpaid opportunities exploit the worker and privilege those with family financial support. However, volunteering can be an important way to develop skills, network and even find job opportunities, says Ibrahim-Taney. Just as nonprofits need staff to run fundraisers and events, they may need help with marketing, graphic design, accounting, or other areas that can develop valuable skills. . Reach out to local nonprofits or look for opportunities at places like Create the Good, Idealist, or Volunteer Match.
Plus, volunteering speaks to your character, says Ibrahim-Taney. “If you’re a finance student and you get a job at Bank of America, no one will be particularly surprised,” she says. On the other hand, if you work for Habitat for Humanity, participate in financial tasks because it’s been a big part of your life, and want to give back, “that says a lot about you,” says -she.
Highlight the task value of “paying the bills”
Sometimes you have to choose the job that will pay the most instead of the one that will give you skills. And that’s fine, said Ibrahim-Taney. Look for the transferable skills you are developing and highlight them on your resume. A summer job as a restaurant server or bartender could teach you valuable communication and interpersonal skills, as well as how to work under pressure.
“It’s really just a brand change,” she said. Think about the transferable skills you could develop in these jobs, and then how you can integrate them into a work environment more closely aligned with your goals. “Some of the best students I’ve ever hired have only had ‘bill-paying’ jobs,” she says.