Getting Student Internship Jobs

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How do you get a good entry-level job opportunity when you graduate from college if you haven't got any work experience? This question is regularly posed by frustrated students who are unable to move directly from college to the workplace. The answer, however, is simple. Working in school internship jobs during college vacations gives valuable work experience and references that more than double your chances of finding employment after college. The key to using internships to help you gain professional employment as a graduate is to obtain genuine entry-level work experience. In other words, doing photocopies and making coffee will not help you get a professional job, whereas an undergraduate internship that provides you with the opportunity to perform genuine entry-level tasks will be very helpful.

Here are ten tips to help you get a student internship job that will really benefit you:

1. Have a purpose in mind when you look for an undergraduate internship. Do you have a learning goal in mind? Not all school internship jobs are equal. Making coffee for managers is not going to give you the experience to get an entry-level position when you leave college. On the other hand, gaining valuable experience in performing real work tasks can give you a competitive edge. The idea is to do a number of smaller internships in the earlier years of college and then in your final year look for a longer internship with a company you might like to work for as a graduate.

2. Ask advice on the best companies in your field for internships. College career counselors and members of your faculty are in a good position to know which companies would best suit your internship aspirations. For example, if you are looking for an undergraduate legal internship, your legal professors and the legal faculty at your college are in a good position to direct you. You can also purchase an internship directory which covers different internships offered across a range of fields. You can also go to to see their list of the top two hundred internship companies in the United States for 2008.

3. Maintain a high grade point average. With one in three college students seeking school internship jobs, the competition for these opportunities is fierce. It is therefore essential to work to consistently achieve good results, the higher the better. You will have to explain failures or less-than-sterling results, so aim to work steadily on your college work. The higher your grades are the better the opportunities that will be open to you.

4. Keep an eye on your college newspaper and on your email inbox. Information about internship opportunities is often sent directly to your student email address, so make sure you check your email every day.

5. Online job sites, especially those specializing in college student jobs, often have internship positions advertised. These sites allow you to easily search for internship jobs; they also let you sign up to receive new job notices that suit your specifications by email. This saves you actively searching for new opportunities every day. You just have to remember to check your email!

6. Identify companies you would like to work for and keep an eye on their websites as they often advertise internship jobs along with other positions under ''employment opportunities.'' Talking with other students who have interned in previous vacations can give you a lot of information about the best companies to intern for. Make a shortlist of organizations that appeal to you and check out their websites. You may be fortunate enough to find an undergraduate internship currently available in an organization you would like to work for.

7. You can also contact potential employers directly, even if they are not currently advertising for interns. Include an application letter and crisp resume introducing yourself and requesting the opportunity to intern for the company. Specify that you would like to be employed doing genuine entry-level work. Then follow up with a phone call and keep in regular contact so that you are not forgotten.

8. Target your application letter and resume to the selection criteria of advertised positions and also to the feeling you have of company culture. A college career counselor can guide you in communicating with a potential employer in a strategic way so that you are not only professional but are also appealing to the values and purposes of the organization.

9. Be professional and well-presented at interviews. Make sure you are able to articulate clear career goals as well as what you want to learn from your internship experience.

10. Network to find internship opportunities. Your college's alumni network can be a wonderful source of school internship jobs; alumni are often very loyal to their college and desire to be helpful. You can also network with family and friends to find out if there might be an undergraduate internship opportunity at their various workplaces. Having someone to speak on your behalf can open doors that might otherwise be closed.

Undergraduate internships can set you on the right pathway to gain professional employment as a graduate as long as you have clear learning and career goals in mind. Despite the competition for these positions, you will have a good chance of obtaining beneficial school internship jobs throughout your college years if you implement the strategies suggested here. By treating internships as seriously as you would treat a professional job, you will target the right opportunities, obtain offers, and perform well in them. As a result, you will be establishing a solid foundation for your future.
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