Now that we’ve talked about finding and getting an internship, the logical question is, “How do I make the most of my internship?”
That question is important because many times advice on finding an internship can be applied to the job search as well, including gaining skills that will follow students to the job market.
“We already know students with career experience, such as internships, are more likely to be hired,” said Drema Howard, the director of USF’s Career Center. “It’s also great because it can be an affirmation that this is the right career for the student.”
For students who put in the time and effort to find and get an internship, sometimes the pressure of actually following through with the internship seems terrifying. And understandably so, since an internship is one step removed from job hunting and gaining complete independence from parents. There are some ways to make an internship a fantastic learning experience.
Howard said that the most important methods of ensuring that students’ internships turn into jobs are things like showing up on time, meeting deadlines, asking to take on projects and showing enthusiasm.
“Never make the assumption that (the internship) won’t lead anywhere, because if you think that way, it won’t,” she said.
The Duh Factor
Showing up on time and working hard, just like Howard advised, shouldn’t have to be mentioned twice, but they are important. Work to complete things in a competent and timely manner, and Howard suggests asking lots of questions so that one’s internship advisors know how serious students are about succeeding.
I’ve always dreamt of writing and editing for magazines. I mentioned last week that my last internship was at Tampa Bay Illustrated and that the editor, Cheryl Smith, looked over my resume and gave me tips on the structure and formatting of resumes. But it wasn’t just a “take” relationship. I came into the office on time to work once a week. I wrote, too, but I also did tedious activities, such as compiling monthly calendars and occasionally answering phones. I was glad to do as much as I could because I wanted a job.
I asked everyone I could about finding a job and how he or she did it. Smith suggested I ask the assistant editor, who was roughly my age, to lunch and ask her how she managed to get her position. I ended up taking both to lunch and picked their brains.
Even though the experience didn’t end with a permanent job, I received freelance assignments and made sure all the editors had my e-mail address and phone number.
More importantly, however, I sent them all thank-you notes.
This week and last, the Career Center has been buzzing with students doing just that — trying to get an edge on the competition. They might be looking for internships or cooperative education programs (paid experience), but the majority of this week was preparation for the career fair this Thursday at the USF Sun Dome.
Sally Hayes, a USF alumna who turned her expertise in student activities to a job at the Career Center this past August, was in charge of preparing students for the career fair.
She mentioned that not only are they targeting employers for the fair, but also are targeting students.
“Anywhere the students are, that’s where we want to market,” Hayes said. “The purpose of the preparation for the fair and we have over 35 employers who are here just for ‘prepare for the fair’.
“They’re looking at our handshakes, eye contact, posture and how to present yourself. They even give you tips on what to wear,” she said.
Howard echoed the need for proper dress. “Dress very professionally. Even though some of the employers show up in business casual, that’s no need for students to wear shorts and T-shirts,” she said. “We’ve actually had students do that before, and the employers do notice. The majority, though, will dress professionally and reflect positively on the university.”
Employers will also notice etiquette. Howard suggests visiting and making a list of what employers one wants to visit, as there will be more that 130 employers represented. She said for students to ask for business cards and bring many recent resume copies to distribute. After the fair, many employers will either conduct on-campus interviews or on-site interviews with students.
One of those employers is Paula Shoman of Geico, who also helped students during the previous week of “prepare for the fair.”
“The most common mistakes I’ve seen today (while reviewing resumes) are layout and lengthy objective statements,” she said. “Objective statements limit students to certain jobs.”
She said that students also make the mistake of listing education way at the bottom of the resume and not giving themselves enough credit for their activities with on-campus organizations.
“A good personality is most important,” she said. “I want them to show that they’re really interested in Geico and want to be a part of the team. They don’t even have to know much about insurance — not many students do in college — but show genuine interest.”
And that’s good advice for any job — be prepared and show genuine interest.