By Hannah Alvarado
Blog Content Contributor
The several clichés that surround university are pretty vast and vary from road-tripping to living on your own for the first time to plain ol’ growing up. As we’ve previously discussed, college is often portrayed to be a time filled with new-and-must-do experiences. One such milestone may not be the most fun, but definitely remains as one of those images that come to mind when thinking of how university will be. This one in particular is all about business connections, late nights and probably a whole lot of coffee runs; it’s the university kid’s ace in the hole, better known as an internship.
We all know that internships are time consuming and you’ve got a lot going on with quizzes, exams and just regular day-to-day college living, but you may be wondering whether or not you should even try for one. Why is this a college-cliché? How do you even get one? And for that matter, should this cliché be here to stay?
Like it or not, when it comes to real-world job application time, the experience gained from a successful internship just might be the deciding factor between you and the other graduate gunning for the same job. To understand this, put yourself in the shoes of the employer and imagine you have graduate A and graduate B. Both may have the same degree and be able to offer similar traits to your company, but if grad A has actual experience in the field while grad B is completely experience-less. Well, I know who most would pick for the job.
You may also be wondering what you need to be picked out of all the other hopeful interns. One of those deciding factors to getting an internship is a cover letter and resumé, streamlined and relevant to the internship you’re applying to. It’s fantastic that you know how to fold clothes from that summer working at H&M, but does your internship really need to know that your closing duties included taking out the trash? The short answer is no! Before even applying to that internship, make sure your resumé is in tip-top shape. Unsure if what you have written is good enough? Try utilizing Career Services’ 48-hour resume round up. This service is perfect for the busy Bobcat as you don’t even have to make an appointment to get some life-saving pointers for your resumé, plus it’s totally free.
Another important aspect to the ‘cliché of the internship’ is when to apply. In all honesty, I’d say that once you are pretty set on a major and hopeful career, focusing on applying ASAP is is pretty darn important. Understandably, some internships only focus on juniors and seniors because they are looking for possible future employees. That being said, I’d say that summer of your sophomore year, get down to business! Waiting until your senior year to start applying may cause you to miss out on quite a few opportunities. Once you narrow down relevance to career, reasonable location, time dedication and the beloved “Still accepting applications,” you’re left with startlingly few to choose from. Because of this, I highly suggest that you apply early and often because they’re never a guarantee!
So you’ve now got your resumé clean-cut and ready to go, you’ve applied in a timely manner and you’ve just been accepted! But it seems that your salary is… well, non-existent. This is pretty normal for quite a few internships out there. Please, don’t get hung up if whatever opportunity you get isn’t paid. I know, we all want to be compensated for the long hours of work we put in, and I understand how the notion of slaving away for no financial compensation sounds a bit bizarre, but you have to keep in mind the value an internship will add to your future employer. The payoff may not be bi-weekly like you’re used to, but instead is a long-term reward.
Let’s say it’s your first day, and want to stand out but aren’t sure how. One important thing to keep in mind is to work smart. When given tasks or assignments, do your best to complete it in the most efficient way possible. Think ahead, go above and beyond, stand out to make an impression. Taking initiative on tasks is the best way to achieve this. Know that the coffee maker is dirty? Get up to clean it. Is it lunch time? Volunteer to go get it. Just don’t stretch yourself too hard. Hard work is often noticed, but smart work is often rewarded. Even if you do end up in a different field of work, an internship is a great way to try on the hat of a possible career without the whole commitment of accepting a full time job.
When it comes to all those coffee runs, late nights with no pay and stress-filled days, the question remains: should this college cliché be here to stay? In my opinion, I’d have to vote a huge absolutely. I know that internships are usually not the most glamorous thing you can spend your days doing, but the payoff is real, and long-term. During all the hours you put in, try to remember why you are there, make sure you look ahead to when you have that job interview, in a room with fellow college graduates and remember that you have real-world experience to leverage with.
University internships, especially unpaid ones, are definitely a time-tested college cliché, and they’re one worth your time and effort. Get out there and get interning y’all.
Featured image by Hannah Alvarado.