If you’ve been looking around for an internship or you’re stuck in one then here is some advice. This is for people who don’t mind working for experience or those who are trying to make the transition (like me).
1. Do not underestimate yourself.
I always underestimate myself, always. I refrain from applying to stores that attract a lot of customers, or boutiques that have really nice designs and expensive pricing because I feel that I will let them down. Just remember, YOU have something that PEOPLE are looking for; your skill, your knowledge, and your willingness to learn. If you’re going to work for free, then you might as well work for free in a high-end boutique where you will learn plenty of things that you can put on your resume. Never be afraid of getting rejected, apply to as many places as you can.
2. Make sure you know what’s in it for you.
I remember just searching around and applying to the first two boutiques I saw, thankfully I got accepted. In interviews, people always ask you what You can offer, make sure you ask them what they can offer. I don’t mind working for free (this is part of my exception) if I will get to learn how to design better banners, use hootsuite, or use any other types of software that will land me a job in the future. If you are already proficient at what you do (in my case graphic design) and they do not know how to design at ALL, then ask for a paying job – you won’t be learning anything from them.
3. Do as many internships as you can to get experience.
Take advantage of your free time in College during the summer, or even do some hours over the school year. Check your local listings, school campus, and internships.com. This was where I found my serene sky internship and there were plenty of other virtual ones also. I do love working for Serene Sky and have def. grown my portfolio! Maybe they will be looking for an intern after summer ends, wouldn’t hurt to ask!
As a college senior (well.. the graduate mark is 5 years for my college), I see plenty of my friends who graduated that don’t have full time jobs. There are only a couple who graduated who landed a great job: 3 people I know landed an accounting job straight out of school (did internships), my friend works at a medical lab (with her own little office) – she did research for the biology department, and others have business jobs after interning at Boeing or in Financial services. Even Brandon wishes he did internships!!
4. Do your research.
I never knew about Hootsuite or any of those other phrases (after all, I am a health science major). I found those phrases by doing a search on Monster.com and typing in my dream job, then I would go and look at the requirements for the Digital Marketing Assistant, etc. Remember those requirements, and the next time you go in to an interview : make sure your internship will be able to give you experience in those fields.
Also, remember – there is a difference between an Internship and Volunteering. I have actually volunteered at other places (medical) and you are only required to go in probably 4 hours a week and at any set time, when you intern it is more rigorous and you might have to put in 24 hours a week sometimes even 30. An Internship will teach you valuable experience, but volunteering is OK if you don’t have enough free time.
5. Know when to leave.
I interned at another place and seriously it was pretty horrible. At first, I thought all things were fine but the boss took me for granted – I worked 8 hours a day doing retail… which was not what I signed up for. Although I was told to log down my hours, when I presented them to her she told me, “Oh, well since you are only able to work three days a week – let’s consider this an internship until school ends.” I could go on and on and on, but I don’t want to scare you guys. There wasn’t a contract, there wasn’t a set time that I went in, I didn’t learn anything and I didn’t get paid. The moment that gave me my “Ah-hah” moment was when she asked me to buy something for an event and I didn’t get reimbursed. I sent in a letter telling her (formally and politely) that I could work 24 hours a week for minimum wage | and also told her that I didn’t think I would be doing so much retail as the job I applied for was marketing assistant – in the end, she didn’t reply. Unprofessional. Find a job/internship where you are appreciated!
From this point on, I will not work for free!
Although there are some exceptions which I listed above.
I was looking around on Facebook and noticed my friend posted up an internship opportunity to another friends wall. I clicked on it and read her comment, “They better pay me. I don’t work for free anymore.” This may sound cocky to others, but to me – it was like a lightbulb popped in my head. That was a bold statement, but I knew the girl who wrote that was talented: she knew how to sew clothes, design, and take photos. Although I am not at that talented, I believe that I have more to offer now than I did before. I have more confidence after making 100+ photo edits for Serenesky and making graphics for them. I feel that I’ve learned a lot from Serene Sky and it’s enough to help me find a job in the real world! *As you can tell, I love my internship right now * I have to admit, I’ve forgotten most of my HTML, Image maps, Animation, and how to use some textures but luckily, they aren’t too bad to relearn. But, I’ve also learned how to use photoshop actions and plenty of other editing tools that I’ve never needed to know since I’ve always worked with edited pictures when making banners. I’m scared, but at the same time I’m excited. I will grow and I will learn and if I find a perfect internship that will teach me everything I need to know then I will happily take it. If not, then I will find a job that I love doing!