Making Your Internship Search Easier

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What we now call an internship is a great deal like what used to be considered an apprenticeship � a system of learning a trade or craft from someone who already has the skill, and paying for that instruction with your work. Sometimes apprenticeships included extra pay, but room and board were the most common forms of recompense for the work done, much like the relatively low pay rate for most modern internships.

Apprenticeships have occurred all over the world and all through time, but they're less common today. Some trades still have them, but internships are more popular, and act as a bridge between school and the workplace. These offer students temporary work in their field where they can learn on the job, and they help with getting good information for a resume, quality references, and networking opportunities.

Generally, we look for internships in the areas where we already have skills and interests. That means that a computer science major might intern at a tech company, while writers may end up interning with small local papers or with publishers. However, finding the right internship for you will require research and a lot of planning. If you're looking for an internship, you're going to need to ask yourself a few questions.

Why do you want a particular internship, and what are you expecting to get out of the job? Make sure your expectations are realistic! What are you planning to get out of the whole experience?

Where are you planning to intern? There are options close to home, but people willing to travel or live elsewhere for the duration of their internship may have more options. Some people look in the government sector, while others are better advised to stick to the nonprofit fields or to the private sector. A lot depends on where you'd eventually like to work.

Ask yourself what kind of budget constraints will be involved. It's a lot easier to take an unpaid internship if you already have the funds to support your room and board. However, if you're going to have to take a second job to get the kind of training you need, you'll have a lot more trouble. Paid internships are more common in some fields, like technology, than they are in others, such as the arts.

Once you know what you want out of your internship, it's time to make sure you have a top notch resume and cover letter. Don't be worried about your work experience - you're not expected to have a lot. Go for real content and a professional look to help you stand out from the rest, and remember to highlight your skills. This can really make it a lot easier to get the internship you've been hoping for.

You may need to interview for your internship, as well. Interviews are generally considered more important than the resume (though it takes a great resume to land the interview in the first place). Be enthusiastic and knowledgeable - these things can overshadow your resume and GPA. After all, any employer wants to work with an intern who really loves what they do. Remember that you need to have some references for when your potential employer asks. They could make or break your chances of that internship.
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