Internships: The Fast Track to Early Career Success

Internships: The Fast Track to Early Career Success

| By Jack Reinhard |
| Facebook Page: @JohnJackReinhard |

In today’s competitive job market, internships are crucial for college students in order to dramatically improve their chances of obtaining a job upon graduation.  Employers nowadays are not too concerned when it comes to your grades in school, but this should not be an incentive to not put forth your best effort in the classroom.  In order to obtain an internship through a college, you will have to prove yourself to them in the classroom by maintaining a good GPA.  What employers want to see is how much experience you have in the particular field you are pursuing a career in.  If you can show that you have worked hard and accomplished great things in a professional setting, your chances of being hired will be far greater than having no internship experience.

According to CNN, internships are a great way to “test drive” a career field you are interested in.  You can find out early on if it is a job in a field you want to pursue.  If things do not work out at an internship, you should not feel like you wasted time.  The reality is that you learned what you do not like early on before you went on to pursue something only to find out you do not like it later.

When searching for an internship, you should not rule out smaller businesses and just look to intern with a large corporation.  While it is great to make connections in a large corporation, you might not get a whole lot of experience with it.  Smaller companies that do not have many employees often offer greater opportunities for hands-on experience.  Dan Hirshberg, the President and founder of CHP Communications, a Public Relations and Strategic Marketing firm in Hackettstown, NJ agrees with this.  “The best internships are the ones when you get to roll up your sleeves and learn about the profession from the ground up,” he noted.

internships are a great way to “test drive” a career field you are interested in.  You can find out early on if it is a job in a field you want to pursue.  If things do not work out at an internship, you should not feel like you wasted time. –CNN

In addition to getting experience in a field, internships are a great way to network and build your list of contacts with other employees, businesses, etc.  You have all probably heard by now that, “it is not always about what you know, but who you know.”  This is very true, as it is often the case that your first job will be at a workplace you interned with or through someone you met during your internship process.

One thing that college students often think is that a non-paid internship is a complete waste of time.  Even non-paid internships can lead you to your dream job.  A great example of this is the famous Academy Award filmmaker, Steven Spielberg who started his career as an unpaid intern with Universal.  This is one example of what an unpaid internship can ultimately amount to.

Over my first two years of college I have been very fortunate and grateful for the internship opportunities I have been given.  I would like to tell you a little bit about how I was able to get into doing internships as a WCCC student just like you.  For me it all started with an end of the semester class project where I had to present members of the college front office with tips to better market WCCC via one social media platform.  I was not even trying to get an internship out of the presentation and expected just to get a grade on it and move on.  Several days after making the presentation, I received an email from WCCC asking if I would be interested in doing a social media internship, which the college had not previously offered.  For about 10-11 months I would go on to do this internship.  It consisted of creating promotional videos for the college, managing the Twitter account, the Instagram account and making posts in a WCCC student Facebook group.

Last Spring while I was covering the WCCC commencement for the social media internship, I met someone who has his own public relations firm and is hired by WCCC to do some work for the College.  After talking for a little bit, he mentioned to me how he would be interested in having me intern with him.  Not long after first meeting him, I began interning with his firm.  And let me tell you, it was both fun and very rewarding right from the start.  That continues to be true even a year after first beginning the internship.  I get to do a wide variety of things such as writing press releases, taking photos at events; and what has been my favorite part, I get to be a contributing writer, video producer and on-camera reporter for a local news website called Inside Warren.  Ultimately, I want to become a sports broadcaster and this internship has been right up my alley.

From doing these internships, there are a few tips I can offer to you as a WCCC student if you are interested in finding an internship.

  1. Put yourself out there– It sounds kind of vague, but honestly a lot of the connections made by me as well as others were the result of simply talking with people in a non-business scenario. It is a small world we live in and you never know who knows who.  For all you know, the person sitting next to you in English Composition I might have a sibling working for a company you have always wanted to work for.
  2. It is never too early to look for an internship– Going into college I thought only college juniors and seniors could get internships. While they might have more leverage than a freshman, that does not mean you should not try to get one.  The worst thing that can happen is that they decide not to take you.
  3. Have an open mind and be open to all experiences– You never know what can lead to what. During this process, you might discover a new passion for something you had not previously known about.  You also might want to have a specific job, but sometimes you have to get there by starting small.

Internship opportunities are becoming readily available for WCCC students.  One way students can start looking for internship opportunities is by registering with the college’s new internship website on College Central.  Here you can submit a resume and other information about yourself that hundreds of potential employers can view.  Another way is by speaking with a faculty member who might be able to arrange one for you with someone they know.  A third way is by visiting Student Services and speaking with the college internship/career coordinator or an advisor.

I wish you all my best in your pursuit to find the right internship for you.  It will not be an easy road, but if you put in the hard work and effort it will happen.  I want to leave you with one of my favorite quotes that sits on my desk as I write this.  Dr. Seuss once wrote, “You have brains in your head.  You have feet in your shoes.  You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

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