Interns: Things You Should Know

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Students choose to study online for a number of reasons, but among the most cited explanations are existing commitments such as a full time job or a family. Online courses are perfect for students in these situations; full time summer internships perhaps not so much. It can, after all, be pretty difficult to gain the blessing of an employer (or a frazzled other half for that matter) to disappear for the entire summer. Fall internships can be the perfect solution for online students as these type of internships typically take place over one or two days a week. It’s not too late either. The Gothamist has only just this week advertised for paid intern positions this Autumn.

Whenever (and wherever) you choose to pursue an intern position, here’s our things you need to know.

~ Your internship doesn’t have to be at a Fortune 500 company for you to benefit from the experience. Smaller companies are often better placed to offer a more hands on learning environment. Never go in with a better than nothing attitude. Spend time, energy, and effort learning about target companies. LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, and company websites are a rich source of information before you apply.

~ You’re an intern. Unless there has been a real emergency, you don’t enjoy the luxury of rolling in late, and if there has been a genuine emergency (sleeping in doesn’t really count), make sure you call in and let your supervisor know. You have no doubt expended a lot of effort to get your internship. Don’t let that energy drain away now. If you complete your given tasks, find something else to do. Nobody ever learnt much from twiddling their thumbs.

~ Unless you’ve been hired as a social media intern, getting caught out using Facebook or Twitter is a bit of a no no. Avoid the temptation to see what the world is up to by keeping yourself busy with other tasks. Be the person who says “Yes”. While we’re not suggesting you go against your principles on something important or take on so much work that you give yourself a nervous breakdown. Saying yes gives you an opportunity to hone to time management skills, show willing, and learn something new.

Alternatives to Internships

Volunteering: Dead set on working for a particular company but they’re not hiring? Consider volunteering as an alternative to working as an intern. Obviously you have to work out if you can afford to do so, but if you can, volunteering can be an excellent opportunity to add a specific skill to your resume.

Part Time Jobs: If your efforts to find an intern have come up short, consider getting a part time job. The key is to make it relevant to the career you wish you pursue in the future. It’s a way to get your foot in the door and to develop those all important soft skills.

Job Shadowing: Tap into your existing network and those of your family and friends to identify opportunities to job shadow. Even if it is just for a day, it can be a real eye opener and will give you an opportunity to get some great advice, to show how enthusiastic you are, and to leave your contact details of course.

However you choose to boost your career opportunities outside of the classes you take, remember that your passion for a role will be weighted as much, if not more so, than the experience listed on your resume.

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