While in college, you will likely be responsible for completing an internship related to your major or field of study. Internships are a great way to test the waters of a career path and make connections in the industry of your choice, whether you want to be a businessperson, a media professional, a psychologist or a biologist. Here are 5 common college internship mistakes that you should avoid for the best experience.
- Avoid waiting until the last minute to search for an internship. Plan ahead to ensure that you are able to find an appropriate internship position that you actually are excited to do that you will benefit from. If you wait until the last minute, intern slots may already be taken, or deadlines for applications may have already passed. In advance, meet with your campus internship and job center to learn about possible opportunities that are coming up.
- Take initiative. Often companies will not come to you looking for interns, you will need to step up and reach out to them. Even if you don’t see any information about an internship program, it never hurts to inquire with a company that you feel you would benefit from working with. Often these organizations will be flattered that you are interested and will be eager to help you learn more about the profession or industry.
- Take advantage of community or college career fairs. Whether you are looking for an official job now or not, these fairs can also be great places to find internships or even entry-level jobs in an area you love. This is also a great place to find out what different businesses or companies have to offer and what they are looking for in potential interns as well as employees.
- Network! This is the time to reach out to people you have met throughout college and in life that may have relevant, helpful connections. Talk to family friends, roommates, co-workers, friends, family members and especially college professors who may be able to think of internship opportunities you may not have on your own. Plus they may have an in and be able to recommend you first hand!
- Be professional. Do not treat this internship lightly. While you likely are not getting paid, it doesn’t mean you can blow of your obligations. Consider the internship an investment in your future and your career goals. Always be on your best behavior, be diligent, thorough in your work, and prompt for all meetings and deadlines.
Make the most out of your internship requirement by finding a placement early on that will truly help you to develop and grow professionally. Plan ahead and start searching early, reach out to companies that interest you most, utilize college and community job fairs, network, and be professional 100 percent of the time. Hopefully, these efforts will lead to a job after college or will simply help you to be much more prepared to enter the workforce in your career area. To learn more about your program’s specific internship requirements, visit your school website such as http://www.accounting.businessdegrees.uab.edu for more information.