As the residents in our apartments in Blacksburg, VA know, it is tough to get a job. But, for college students, if you want a job when you graduate, it is important to have internships while you are in school. Internship seekers need strong professional networks and need to know how to use them. In fact, 80% of new hires come from a "hidden job market" where positions are not advertised but instead are passed along through employees, who share them with friends and professional contacts.
Here are some tips on getting an internship:
1. Ditch your sexymamaXXX@aol.com email address.
Get a businesslike email address with their full name or first initial and last name.
2. Map your network.
Even students who don't have parents with friends in high places or friends with parents in high places, may be closer than they realize to someone in an industry they're interested in. Students should make a list or draw a map of their contacts, including neighbors, teachers and people from their church, temple or community center.
You absolutely never know where your internship lead is going to come from.
3. Expand your network.
Look for ways to build new contacts through student clubs and alumni associations. Go to job or internship fairs and introduce yourself.
4. Understand how to use college coursework to your advantage.
Making sure there's a kind of consistency between what you have done in school and what you are looking for is very important. College graduates should tap professors for connections and leads for internships.
Also, having taken certain courses — like science, engineering and math or communications and marketing, for example — can often give recent graduates a leg up when applying for certain internships.
5. Play up your real-world experience.
Since recent grads might have thin resumes, remember to include past jobs like camp counselor. It's very valuable experience, and it still could be differentiating factor.
6. Tap your network for informational interviews.
Reach out to people who work in the field in which you are interested, let them know you'd like to learn about their industry, how they got started in their careers and ask for advice about getting your foot in the door.
7. Always follow up.
Be sure to send a handwritten note or email to thank contacts after speaking with them and keep in touch over time with short notes letting them know what you're up to.
8. Learn phone and email etiquette.
With some students not knowing how to leave a phone message, the Opportunity Network runs a two-hour workshop on phone etiquette. It also devotes eight hours of class time to email etiquette, so students learn that the shorthand they use in text messages is not appropriate for business emails.
9. Always be professional.
A resume should never have a typo. You should never be late to an interview.
Try on their interview outfit the week before and do a dry run of the commute days before the interview.
10. Be clear if you can afford to do a paid internship or not.
There's been a lot of backlash against unpaid or low-paying internships, with a host of lawsuits filed by interns.
There are more opportunities for unpaid work, but students need to be realistic about what they can afford. If tyou can't work for free, you need to be explicit about that. If a company can't pay, there's still a graceful way to keep contacts there in your network.