By Colleen Sabitano, The Intern Coach
You’ve just moved into a dorm, and you were elected a student representative. You’ve just taken your first test, and you’ve gotten an “A.” You’ve just gone to your first school football game, and your team won. You’re on a roll, so it’s time to check out the internship situation at your school. Although you might not be ready in your first semester to take on an internship, it’s not too early to find out more about your future options.
Your first semester is going to be a period of transition, so you might not want to tackle an internship so soon. However, you can start by going over to the campus career center and finding out what internships are available to you as a second semester freshmen or during the summer of your freshmen year. One of the career counselors will help you understand what type of internship would work for you. Other decisions involve location of the internship, paid or unpaid, availability of academic credit, foreign language requirements, and housing help if necessary.
Like many freshmen, you may be uncertain about your major. During the first semester, evaluate various potential majors and their related internships. Also, consider whether you see yourself working for a big corporation, a small company, or a nonprofit. Start an internship journal, keeping track of your evolving self-knowledge. You can also take the our free Internship Predictor to find out what types of careers may suit you best.
For the second semester of your freshman year, you might look into a virtual internship that you can perform at a computer without leaving your room. Or you could explore the options for the upcoming summer. Review your budget to see if you can afford to take an unpaid internship or not. Meanwhile, revise your resume and create a general cover letter that you can customize for different internships. Educate yourself about all the new internships available by checking frequently on internships.com and with your career center.
Check to see how many internship college credits you are permitted, according to your school or your department. If you’re limited, you might want to take a summer job for pay, saving your internship credits for later in your college career. Do you want to do one in another country? If so, you may need to register now for a language course or two in preparation.
Another way to educate yourself on internships is to search for internship openings on this site, reviewing thousands of internships worldwide. The site also offers assessment tests to help you learn what kind of internship would suit you best. You can search by company to find out if you prefer a large or small company or a nonprofit. You may want to try one of each during your college career to determine what environment is the right “fit” for you. Internships really help you rule out what you don’t want as well as show you what you do want.
Network with other students who have completed internships to hear about their experiences. You could make a list of all the internships that you learn about and rank them according to your interest, so when you’re ready to apply for an internship, you have a starting point. Your first internship should be a great learning experience but not overwhelming. Choose an internship in which you know you’ll succeed, boosting your confidence level.