In the last few months I worked with Julia and Greg, recent college graduates having trouble landing jobs after graduation as an accountant and an engineer. Their parents came to The Interview Doctor for help. Both candidates had a mishmash of odd jobs during their school years but neither had any relevant work experience or internships during college. That is not good. The lack of internships was hampering their ability to get a job.
Both candidates said their grades were not good enough to get an internship. Both candidates had one bad grade that took their GPAs below 2.5. Their department heads would not allow them to participate in the school internship programs. They were deterred.
One situation like this is a fluke. More than one demonstrates a problem worth exploring.
Wikipedia defines internship as “a method of on-the-job training for white-collar and professional careers… similar in some ways to apprenticeships for trade and vocational jobs.”
In my opinion, internships should be mandatory. Every student should have some sort of relevant work experience during college. Working at Taco Bell or lifeguarding at the local pool is not sufficient these days unless your career goal is restaurant or pool management.
Internships in your area of interest provide real world experience in the career you think you want. If you hate the work experience then you can always change your focus. It is so much easier to make changes while in college than after you get out.
Internships look great on your resume. You make contacts who can help you network when you graduate. Perhaps most important, internships demonstrate that you know how to work. Employers love to see internships on your resume.
You are nodding your head right now saying, “Sure, we know that”. But if everyone knows that then why do so many students leave college without an internship?
Let’s look at the concept of “internships” from a different angle. Perhaps if we defined “internships” as meaningful pre-professional work instead of a formal program offered by your college, then more people would understand.
There are no formal standards to define internships. Any position even tangentially related to your major can be an internship. You can define “internship” any way you like. There is no excuse to be deterred by your department’s rules. The college department rules might eliminate one place to find internships but there are many other places to look such as:
- Data bases like internmatch.com, experience.com, internships.com; check out this comprehensive list of Top Internship Sites for 2014
- College placement offices have listings of part-time positions from all sorts of companies located around your college. This would be a summer job with teeth in it – something that could look good on your resume.
- Identify companies you think might offer internships in a geography that is good for you – check out their website for information then send an email or call
- Ask you friends, parents, parent’s friends – anyone who can put you in touch with someone who works at a company.