Now that I’ve graduated college (class of 2011 woot-woot!), I constantly look back on my experience and analyze the things I did right and wrong. Yes, this can be somewhat of a problem, but it also gives me the opportunity to help others not make the same mistakes I did. Or help others follow in my footsteps and do the same things that I did correctly. When I was asked to write a weekly column for LA Family Magazine about life after college, I was very flattered. I enjoy reliving those four years and getting to write about how my life is different now.
One of the aspects I wanted to touch on for my column was internships. Your first job out of college- and maybe your second and third as well- will be offered to you based upon your experience. A large part of your experience is your previous jobs and internships. During my four years of college, I took a full course load, worked part time and completed two unpaid internships. It wasn’t easy, but I learned a lot from them and wanted to share some of my tips with those of you who are in a similar position.
Here are 5 of my tips for internships.
Keep copies of all the work you do
It sounds easy enough, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t utilize the work they produce from their internships. This applies mostly to internships in the communications field, but the same could go for any major. Try to get a copy (digital or tangible) of all the work you do and produce. This will help to build your portfolio and is what potential employers are looking for. During my internships, I would e-mail myself a copy of everything I did- which included press releases, media advisories, sample pitches, etc.
Don’t be afraid to ask for new tasks
If the company has the time and resources for you to do so, they will be glad that you asked. At my first internship, I wasn’t getting a chance to do as much PR as I wanted to, so I asked my supervisor if there was any tasks related to PR that I could take on. I came out of that internship with a lot of experience in promotions and the radio business, but also got a little PR experience because I asked. Although many employers may not have the time to create the ideal task for you, if you ask ahead of time they may be able to plan a few new assignments for you in the future.
Ask questions about the industry you work in
These people were in your position once- don’t forget that! They too were interns at companies trying to work their way up and learn everything they could. During my internship of my senior year of college, I worked with a girl who had graduated just a year before me. She gave me tons of advice about applying for jobs and told me her personal stories on how much the job market stunk . Her advice was not only helpful, but reassuring as well.
Asking questions is also a chance to make sure this is the field you really want to go into. Ask about the good and the bad, what a typical day is like, and the traits and skills needed for the job and field. Make sure these match up to your personality and are things you are interested in, otherwise it may not be a good match.
Send a thank you note after your internship is over
While I usually resort to the thank you e-mail, after a particularly great internship experience I sent the company a handwritten letter. In the mail. Yes, people still do that- believe it or not! The receptionist revealed that no one had ever sent them a personal note in the mail and that it really meant a lot to the entire team that I did that.
Keep in touch through email and social media
I added my supervisor and a few of the other employees who I worked with on Linkedin. A few who I was closer with socially added me on Facebook and Twitter, which can be helpful for the job search and keeping in touch (if used correctly). Although these connections never led to a job position or anything, I still keep in touch with them from time to time. You never know when the company may have an opening or who they may know.