Finding an internship can be as frustrating as finding a needle in a haystack. Not only do we have to format our resumes and write cover letters, we also have to look for the right kind of internship that fits our field of interest and hope that we get the position.
We may feel like getting an internship is impossible because of our lack of experience in the work field or less-than-desirable GPA, but Linda Drake, director of the UCI Career Center, advises otherwise.
“There’s always internships available,” Drake says. “What’s happened in this economy is that there are more internships available because this is a way for companies to bring on individuals for a trial run. It’s to the employers’ advantage to have internships where there is no obligation of future employment, therefore they can test that person to see if he’s a perfect match.”
In order to obtain an internship, you must be persistent and consistent in your search. An internship is not something you can apply for at the last minute. If you feel like you don’t know where to start, heading to the Career Center is your first, and best, available option.
The Career Center offers resume writing workshops and mock interviews to help students prepare to impress their future employers. They also host career fair events to give students the opportunity to network with professionals who work in various fields.
Even if you don’t know what kind of career you would like to pursue, the Career Center can help with that as well with their standardized assessments. This tests help students identify their interest patterns and shows them how their interests relate to occupational choice.
According to Drake, the key to finding an internship is not about having a high GPA, but being persistent in searching. “The individuals who can get the best internships are the individuals with the best job search strategy,” Drake explains, “It’s the person who takes advantage of all the job search strategies available to them, including networking.”
For students working on a resume, Drake highly encourages them to not discount their volunteer experiences, leadership experiences (whether it be for a non-profit club or a religious organization) or their experience working in a family business.
Even if students did not get income from these experiences, employers will have a good picture of the student’s working experience and see what part of his or her experience is relevant to the company.
More than just finding an internship, it’s also crucial for students to learn how to make the most out of them. Internships don’t exist so that students can have something nice to fill up their resumes. They are opportunities for students to build a great reputation in the workplace and grow as a professional.
The first step that student interns should take is to find a project-oriented assignment at their internship.
Once they complete that task, they should persistently ask for more responsibilities and continually produce high quality work. The students should also work to develop mentorships. “When you have a supervisor or an employer that you respect, that you want to learn from, ask if they can be your mentor,” Drake advises, “but always remember to look for additional responsibilities.”
Although it may be daunting to persistently ask for responsibilities from professionals, it’s important for students to be confident and remind themselves that they are professionals as well. “It’s important for students to know that an internship is something that is really looked for by employers,” Drake says. “It’s not enough for students to have a 4.0 GPA and no experience. An employer would pass that person up for a person with 3.5 GPA with experience.”
Internships are essential stepping stones for students as they move forward into their careers. Although there are a lot of students who are concentrating on going to classes and getting good grades, it really won’t matter after the student graduates if he or she did not attempt to gain experience from internships. It’s not too late to look for an internship. If you are close to graduating or possibly a year from doing so, now is the best time to search. The UCI Career Center is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with drop-in hours from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Monday to Friday every week.