Is Freshman Year Too Early to Be an Intern?

Is freshman year too early to be an intern? Unfortunately, it probably is.

These rare opportunities are out there, but getting a true developmental, strategic, skill building internship as a traditional freshman in college is a lofty goal.

There will be “internship” titles available to you, but be picky because not all internships are created equal so you should start with the end in mind to ensure you’re building skills that will make you a stronger candidate when the most coveted internships are available.

So what does it mean to start with the end in mind? Find out what skills are going to be most important to the decision makers that will ultimately determine if you are eligible for the internships you want later on. Going to career fairs and asking questions, messaging with recruiters on LinkedIn and asking your career advisors on campus what jobs students are holding before they get internships is a great way to start.

If you want to be a buyer at Gordmans for example, we really value in-store experience before you start in our Merchandising and Planning internship. Look for similar opportunities to gain hands on experience that will contribute to your future goals. If you ask enough questions of trusted, reliable sources of data like those mentioned above, eventually you are likely to find a part-time job now that will help you start on that career path of your dream in the future.

And what if you can’t find a part-time opportunity now that contributes to your long-term career goals? Don’t be discouraged. There are certain careers where your chances to get hands on experience while you’re a student aren’t as readily available and that’s ok. Even if the skills you’re building don’t seem relevant, just having a job can be highly advantageous.

For your own sake, you will be learning valuable lessons about your strengths, what you value in a company’s culture and many other workplace related lessons that can be hard to replicate in the classroom. Soak it all in as an experience that will help you in the long run and not just a way to make a few bucks. As a recruiter, I’m looking for students that can balance school, on campus involvement and some work hours. The business world is complex and this shows me that you have prepared yourself to handle competing priorities. Of course, everyone needs to find their own balance of how much they can work while in college so that they don’t put grades at risk.

Lastly, if you take my advice and get a part-time job as a freshman rather than an internship, be picky about that, too. There is more reliable data available on a company’s culture and strengths than ever before, so make the most of your part-time job. It may be too early to be an intern, but freshman year isn’t too early to start building the workplace skills that will define you in the future.

This article was written by Gordmans. You can follow Gordmans on Twitter @gordmans.

Categories: Business, Career Advice, Industry Trends, Job Advice, Tips For Finding A Job