How to Find the Right Summer Internship for You
A summer internship can be a powerful way to prepare for life outside of school, giving you a chance to try out the skills you learn with DECA in a real-life business.
Allowing you to find out how the workplace really works before you decide on your career path, internships also develop your problem solving capabilities, which will be incredibly important at college. Your teachers, parents, and school have probably already suggested that you find an internship sooner rather than later.
But how do you find the one that’s right for you?
1. Plan Ahead
Many students head straight for the first internship they find, simply because they are feeling the pressure to get an internship on their resumé. When everyone else is doing the same thing it can be tempting to follow the crowd and dive straight in, but remember, internships come in many shapes and sizes—so don’t be afraid to take your time choosing! It is always better to do something that really adds value than to end up just watching the clock.
Before you commit to an internship, ask yourself why you want to work for that particular company. What skills do you want to learn there, and where does this experience fit into your overall college/career plan? You may not know the answers to all these questions, but taking the time to think about them will help you to find the right opportunity, and then give you the tools to convince a potential employer that you will be a good fit for their business. Knowing what you want and being able to explain it can really set you apart from those who are simply trying to boost their college application.
2. Evaluate Your Priorities
Understanding your priorities is crucial when you are looking for an internship, as not everything you want will come in one convenient package. You might need to be strategic about choosing whether you want compensation, experience that really develops you, or to work for a well-known company. Even the most experienced job-hunters occasionally get it wrong, but remember—there is no reason you can’t do more than one internship to cover everything you need.
While wages might be more attractive to start with, or it sounds cool to say you worked for a famous brand, try to also think outside of the box. Sometimes a start-up or a small company can offer you better mentorship or project opportunities than you might get in a big company. You may not always be offered wages, but they can be replaced with travel expenses or training. Start-ups in particular can be a really good place to learn from innovative people and practices.
3. Look Further Afield
Many students find work experience through their family networks, which can be a great first calling point, but you should always look further afield if you haven’t found your perfect match. Your school counsellor may know if local businesses are looking for interns, and many professional organizations have internship programs running throughout the year.
If you are struggling to find somewhere, look for companies that might have a lot of projects or a smaller staff, as an extra pair of hands will always be appreciated. A good bet might be local government, or active charities in your area. Even when an internship hasn’t been advertised organizations can be very willing to take you on, so never be afraid to ask.
Wherever you end up doing your internship you will be sure to learn, but it is always helpful to maximize your chances if you can. It is never too late to look for an internship, and in our Career Development team’s experience there will always be someone who is happy to help, so good luck with your search!
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