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Guest Blog from NorthOrion: Finding Your Perfect Internship

Check out this article by guest blogger Kimberly Bowen, NorthOrion Staff Writer (www.northorion.com) on how to narrow down your search for the perfect internship.

Fame and fortune are two things that you probably won’t acquire from an internship, but that doesn’t mean that your experience has to be a waste of time. The last thing you want to be stuck doing for three months is printing meeting agendas or scheduling maintenance repairs for your boss. Even in our present economy, there are still many great internship opportunities. Networking, having the required skills and balancing prominence with position are the fundamental principles that NorthOrion thinks are key to having a successful experience as an intern.

Think “Networking”
The majority of job postings – and internship opportunities for that matter – never make it onto the main online job boards. Instead, they are passed along by word of mouth and filled by people who have connections. If you’re feeling that you aren’t one of those people with connections, think again! You don’t need to know people well to network with them successfully; it can always help but it’s not required. Just start talking to people. Look at everyone as a networking opportunity. You never know who your exercise buddy, professor, uncle, bus driver or the person standing in line next to you knows.

Find a way to comfortably bring up your search for an internship in conversations. Let people know what you’re looking for and what you have to offer. Keep your spiel short and to the point. Be prepared with a way to write down their contact information or professionally and effectively share yours.

Even if an internship position doesn’t work out, keep in contact with influential people. Send thank-you notes and follow up with them on occasion. You may find that the internship opportunity you didn’t receive or that you turned down may become a great job opportunity once you finish your degree.

Plan Ahead for the Skills You’ll Need
Start looking for an internship early on in your education, or at least during the school year. Positions fill up quickly, so don’t wait for someone to contact you. Look for positions that could be interesting and a good fit. Make a list of companies and start contacting them. Find out what skills and accomplishments they’re looking for. If they take on interns every semester, ask if you can speak with the person involved in the hiring process. Ask them what qualities their favorite intern had.

Next, take a good look at your resume. If you don’t have the skills they’re looking for, so what! This is your opportunity to obtain them. Do everything in your power to get those skills. Volunteer, take additional night classes, complete an intermediary internship or find a temporary job that can give you the experience they are looking for in an intern. If there isn't time for you to completely learn something, start it anyway and list on your resume as something that you’re in the process of learning. They’ll probably be impressed by your ambition. By simply finding out what they’re looking for and working toward it, you’ll be ahead of the curve. The worst that can happen is that you’ll end up with a couple extra skills for your resume, which never hurt anyone.

Balance Prominence with Position
Working for a company that has a well-known name in its industry can be a great way to impress potential employers. Superb experience can be equally important. Unfortunately, these two don’t always go hand in hand. Oftentimes, larger, more prominent companies have more coffee-running interns than smaller companies. A business that only has 15 employees may have more tasks for you to work on than one that has more than 500. Consider which will take you further in your career. You may find that a little bit of both is best.

Byline: Kimberly Bowen, NorthOrion Staff Writer (www.northorion.com)

Posted by kkowatch at January 10, 2011 11:44 AM

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