A great way to strengthen your résumé is to do an internship, but the benefits don’t stop there. By interning, you can gain professional skills, insight into a particular industry or organizational culture, and connections that might lead to a full-time job. Internships can also be a testing ground for potential new employees. Companies are spending more time and resources developing internship programs because they provide an efficient way to identify excellent full-time candidates. There is a lot of competition for internships. The following suggestions may help you secure a rewarding internship where you can learn about the field you are pursuing.

Start Early. Companies advertise their summer internships during the Fall and Spring Career Fairs. BCS can also connect you with internship opportunities through I-Link. You can network with employers throughout the fall by meeting them at the Career Fair, workshops, employer forums and company information sessions. You may get a jump start by participating in the Job Shadow Program. When recruiters are ready to hire interns, you will be top-of-mind.

Prepare. Make sure your résumé highlights your skills and accomplishments. Although an effective résumé will get you an interview, a successful interview will get you a job or internship. Take advantage of BCS employer workshops on résumé writing and résumé critiques and participate in a mock interview to hone your interviewing skills

Network. Making contacts is instrumental in your search for an internship. Talk with alumni, friends, parents, neighbors, relatives, friends of your parents, parents of your friends, and anyone who is in the company or industry that you are interested in working. Attend company information sessions, workshops, career fairs, and talk with recruiters, even if they are not currently seeking interns. Learn more about networking.

Be Creative. Because there are more students than there are internships, it can be difficult to find a productive internship. Be proactive and creative. Talk with companies and professionals in the area you are interested in working in and develop an opportunity for yourself. Consider volunteering, offering to help on a part-time or project-by-project basis. If an organization has not hired interns in the past, they may be willing to take a chance on an assertive, intelligent student. Although working without pay doesn’t sound appealing, it can pay off in the long run by helping you build your résumé and make professional connections that can be used for the full-time job search.

Internship Types

Paid vs. Unpaid. The majority of paid internships are offered by large companies. Consulting, investment banking, commercial banking, accounting, information technology, and marketing offer paying internships. However, unpaid internships still offer opportunities to gain valuable work experience and can have a pay-off when you are looking for full-time work. In addition to making connections, you can also get training and an understanding of the industry

Credit vs. Not-for-Credit. Depending on your major and the internship description, you may be able to earn credit for your internship. In some situations, employers may require interns to be registered for a university class as a condition of employment. Class registration requires payment of tuition and/or fees. Talk with your academic department about internship credit, and meet with a BCS adviser regarding options for eaning credit

Summer vs. During School Term. The majority of internships are available in the summertime. However, more opportunities are becoming available for undergraduates who are willing to take a semester (or longer) off from school and participate in a winter or spring semester internship or co-op. These types of experiences can be extremely rewarding and can provide a break from the academic setting. Some employers are willing to extend internships over the academic year on a part-time basis. Part-time may not provide as clear a picture of what the daily demands are in a given profession, but you’ll learn enough to assess whether or not you enjoy a particular job or industry

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