Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Power of Internships

You’re ready to break into a new career. You’ve already taken bold steps by committing your time and energy to pursuing your education. You are confident in your newly honed skills and knowledge.

However, it seems like every job description you read requires experience in the field. You need a job to get experience, and experience to get a job. You’re stuck in an endless cycle!

Don’t get discouraged – get proactive! You can leverage your student status to get that essential experience, form contacts within your new field and develop your portfolio.

How? Through the power of internships!

These aren’t the internships of the past, consisting of shuffling papers and fetching coffee for a salary of $Free. Instead, today’s internships are geared toward fostering industry-specific knowledge, connecting an intern’s work with organizational goals and training new workers on what’s needed to succeed. In fact, many internships now are paid (though the range of compensation varies by field, employer and opportunity).

So now you’re wondering, when and how do I get started? Right now! Late winter is a good time to start the hunt for an internship, as many organizations start recruiting for summer opportunities during this season. Here are Career Development Services’ suggestions for finding high-impact internships:

1. Internal Internship: Many Peirce students work full-time or part-time jobs while they take classes. Leaving those jobs for a temporary internship is usually not feasible (or advisable). However, if you’re in good standing with your employer, they may be willing to grant you time to shadow a department relevant to your field of study, collaborate on related projects or match you with a mentor to suit your professional development. Going about this may be tricky! Be specific in your requests to your manager and be ready to field concerns. Prepare some examples of your success and be confident in your ability to do two things at once!

2. Cooperative Work Experience: Why not build course credits while you build work experience? Commonly called Co-Op, this is a 14-week opportunity for you to sponge up on-the-job knowledge while reflecting on your experience through homework assignments tied to your professional goals. Co-Ops start in January, May and September each year. Ask your Academic Advisor or Career Development Services for eligibility requirements and more information!

3. Job Postings: Employers are looking for fresh perspective and new prospects for their employment pipeline. There are several sites that frequently highlight internship opportunities (campusphilly.org is a good place to start), but you will see them posted on regular job boards too. Be investigative as you search. Is the internship paid? Is it offering the type of experience you need to break into your field? How long would it last? Is there a chance of full-time employment after the internship? Know what you’re getting yourself into before you commit, and remember that an interview can be a great time to find out whether the culture of the organization could be the right fit for you.

4. DIY: What if you don’t see any internships in the exact field you want to break into? What if there is an organization with a mission you love, but that doesn’t have any current job openings? Use your creativity and drive to make your own internship! Assemble a proposal to present your target employer specifying how you’d like to collaborate. Be specific about your skills and knowledge and how you can benefit the company. Internships might not be something they typically do, but a solid proposal and the appropriate amount of interest on your part could create an “in” to an organization you love.

As you consider which strategy might be the best fit for you, remember that internships should be a harmony of what you’re bringing to an organization and what you can take away. Develop a strategy early and commit to the internship process, so you can make the most of your experience.

For more helpful information, check these sites for internship listings:
If you have more questions about the nature of internships, review the helpful guidelines published by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

For further advice and information on internships or any career path, contact Career Development Services at 215.670.9202 or cds@peirce.edu. Best of luck with your internship search!