Springboard to a New Job/Your Job Search with an Internship Print E-mail

by Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC

Internships aren’t just for college credit anymore. As more and more job seekers consider changing careers or developing new skills, internships are becoming a viable path throughout all stages of your career. Internships offer many opportunities, including building skills, expanding your network, and making the kind of contribution that increases self-confidence and your sense of contributing to a team effort. Of course the downside of little or no pay still exists, but internships can provide an important alternative during critical career shifts. Most are time limited, which minimizes their economic impact. And, as has always been the case with internships, one could lead to a permanent position .

Identify the Internship Opportunity You Seek

An internship can help you realize dreams that you may have set aside at other points in your career or help you explore interests you had not considered from a professional perspective. Many of the careers and specific types of positions available today simply didn’t exist even a few years ago. For this reason, many people need to develop skills if interested in these newly created positions. Traditional training programs, workshops, or degree programs are not the only ways to learn new skills. The beauty of the internship experience is in its hands-on, apprentice-like nature. Even if the internship is essentially a volunteer role, those types of experiences always add value to your resume.

Where to Find an Internship

The easiest entry into internships is through your local community. Check out traditional volunteer, civic, and community organizations for existing opportunities. You can also use your research and individual goals for the experience to create an internship for yourself. But be careful not to lose sight of your own goals if you create your own position. Local organizations have needs too, and may want to enlist your existing skills to meet those needs. While this situation can still be a beneficial experience for you, it may not meet your needs if you are trying to develop new skills.

Use online resources in addition to your community network. Search for internships in your field, such as “accounting internships” and analyze the results carefully. A recent informal review of craigslist yielded hundreds of internship opportunities, most of which were targeted to professionals rather than students.

Make the Most of Your Internship

The internship can expand your network which is always a benefit in current and future job searches. In addition, internships can still lead to a permanent position, whether it is with the same company or through one of those new network contacts.

Of course, skill development is one of the primary reasons for seeking an internship, so you want to be certain to obtain documentation. You may request a certificate of completion or letter of recommendation for your file. In addition be sure to update your resume and cover letter. Any internship is a professional development activity which should be prominently featured in your cover letter as well as in your core competencies on the resume. Translate some of the new skills into industry key words for greater effect when submitting your resume.

The perception of internships has definitely changed and in today’s job market they are typically viewed with great respect. An internship is now seen as an investment in your career. Your commitment and passion to the field are communicated by your decision to pursue this experience as part of an overall savvy career strategy. Build your skills and springboard to a new position!