Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Securing an internship: Finding the right company for you

CDS: Stop into Career Development Services for
tips on a successful internship search.
Earlier in July, we shared the story of Peirce student Kevin Fink, who received a job offer after just one month as an intern. But Kevin’s journey towards success started long before his offer, or even his first day as an intern.

It started as it starts for every intern – with a dedicated search for the right position. It’s a search that can be intimidating, especially for adult learners who already have a full plate with work, school, and family responsibilities.

So we sat down with the College’s resident internship expert, Robyn Dizes, Director of Career Development Services to get her thoughts and perspective on the internship search process. Take a read through our Q&A with Robyn for some helpful hints on beginning your search.

1. What are the most common concerns adult learners have when they begin their search for an internship?
A: Many adult learners have full-time jobs as well as families, which can make it difficult to find time for an internship. A big concern for adult learners is what their work hours will be like at their internship. If they have a family to take care of, they often look for a flexible work schedule and a company that will understand that need.

 Other times, adult learners may have apprehensions about returning to the world of internships as an adult. There are times when an employer might think that an adult learner might not have the right skills or be up-to-date with relevant technology to do the job as well as a younger intern. I’ve also see adult learners fret about whether or not they have enough experience within the field when applying for a specific internship. Be prepared to explain how your life experience and previous career experience have given you the ability and confidence to deal with situations relevant to this new career area. Let the employer know that you have valuable transferable skills. Someone who has gone straight from school to a university might find it harder to tackle these kinds of situations.


2. What should be the first step when looking for a summer internship? How can students proactively begin the search?
A: Conducting a well-educated internship search is the key to finding success. Internships are great opportunities for students to get experience which will help them long-term, if they are the right fit. Before taking an internship, do your homework by researching what the internship entails and what services it will provide so you are sure to have the proper knowledge of that particular workplace.
I also advise students to follow-up with their top choices after they have sent their resume. This will work in their favor, because it shows your future boss that you took the initiative to do the research, and it will allow you to be more productive now that you know the background and purpose of the company.

3. In what ways can Peirce College assist students with their search?
A: The #1 way we can help is through our Career Development Services office and supporting students in improving their resumes. By refining your resume and keeping it up-to-date, you will have a better idea of what you will qualify for in the work world, and where you want to be.

Career Development Services will also lend insight into the job search websites that might be useful for finding internships, as well as connecting you with a multitude of other resources--such as your academic advisers--who can also point you in the right direction.

4. What websites do you recommend students check out? Are sites like Monster helpful tools?
A: Websites like Monster can be good while searching for jobs, but sometimes it can be difficult to sift through because there are so many job ads. It can really help to check out websites specifically geared to the type of internship you are looking for.

One site to utilize is LinkedIn; it can be a good start to make connections with companies in the region and even across the country. LinkedIn allows you to promote your skills by posting your resume to attract employers.

Another site is Indeed.com, which is built like a Google search engine for jobs, and is one of the most efficient sites for surveying listings, because it aggregates information from job boards, news websites, and company listings. An advanced search function enables users to drill down on a location, keywords and salary range.

5. How can a summer internship help adult learners prepare for a new career -- and in some cases, a career change?
A: Summer internships are a good way for adult learners to strengthen their skills and learn more about a potential field. They provide the opportunity to enhance your current skills while learning new ones at the same time.

Also, having a summer internship can be favorable in the search for a new job. Internships help to clarify your career goals, as you explore and discover what you’re interested in.

6. Do you ever run into a situation where a student is financially unable to accept an unpaid internship, and what advice would you give them?
A: In this case, an unpaid internship would not be wise; I would suggest that the student apply for a job that pays at least minimum wage – maybe at a department store or in food services. Although it is not the occupation a student might desire at the time, it can help them in supporting themselves while still being able to hone in on some important intrapersonal skills – which will be invaluable no matter the career.

With some financial footing in place, you will have the freedom to take baby steps toward achieving your ultimate goal.While you’re working on your education and able to pay the bills, you can best use your time to continue your internship search until you find one that fits your needs and you have the right credentials for.

8. How does having an internship on your resume make you a more viable candidate when applying to jobs?
A: Many students take advantage of internship programs to get experience outside of the classroom and develop their current skills while learning new talents to help in the long-term.

Having an internship on your resume shows that you not only have the right degree for the job, but that you know how to perform the job. So, if you have the education required for the job as well as the specific skills, it will show that you made the consistent effort to prepare for this field, and that you have the day-to-day experience of work, dealing with a supervisor, co-workers and handling consumer services.

9. Any advice for our adult learners who might have to balance a summer internship, their family, and potentially even another part-time job?
A: Time management is a major component. It is difficult to provide for a family while working a part-time job and completing a summer internship -- but it is possible. There are going to be times when you must sacrifice your free time to work an extra shift at your worksite, but just remember, the sacrifice is temporary, but the life you are working towards by accomplishing your goals will not be!.

When you are home with your family, enjoy that time! If you have children, play with them or help them with homework. Being a provider and having to work can be challenging – and sometimes exhausting -- but it pays off in the end. As long as you correctly manage your work schedule around some family time, things will seem more manageable.

10. Do you find that family-friendly companies are more flexible and interested in taking on an adult intern?
A: For adult learners, it can be difficult to find a job or an internship, and focusing on family-friendly companies can be a good start to looking for an internship. Many companies have found success by adding adult interns. Take Wawa, for example. Wawa is a family-owned business and is giving an opportunity to adults to get experience, and at the same time, an opportunity to provide for their family as well.

11. Given how the work world has changed since most adult learners first entered it, what are some obstacles they might have to overcome while looking for an internship?
A: Over the last decade or so, technology has evolved greatly. Being up-to-date with the latest skills is important. Every industry is changing on a daily basis and it is imperative that students keep up with that evolution. In order to stay current in your skills, you might have to take courses to be on the same page with competitors. At Career Development Services, we can help you evaluate this and get on the right track.

Have a question that wasn’t answered here? Let us know at cds@peirce.edu.