Finding the Best Internship for Your Major

In the working world, the experience you have upon graduation from college makes a huge difference on your prospects. Landing a solid internship is essential for starting on the right foot after graduation. With so many options out there, how do you make the best possible decision about the right internship? We’ll try and give you a few pointers on what to look for when trying to choose the best one for you.

Although internships are of particular importance in certain fields, such as financial investments, generally all students can benefit from completing one. There are several good reasons to consider going after the experience even if it seems like unrewarding work. The bottom line is that internships offer a gateway to real-life work experience, full-time jobs and socializing opportunities that would be difficult to encounter anywhere else.

Real-life Experience

Starting with the most obvious reason – an internship gives you real-world working experience in your field of choice. Menial jobs that help you make ends meet are helpful, but they do nothing for you in the long run and the risk of getting stuck in a “temporary” position is too high. In addition to that, working in the industry you want to make a career in will give you perspective and help you sort your priorities.

Future Prospects

It is not uncommon to see people who leverage a simple internship into full-time employment. When a job opens up, many companies approach intern candidates before unfamiliar applicants as they’re more comfortable hiring someone they’ve already worked with. As a result, many large financial firms extend full-time offers to a large number of their interns after they complete their programs and course work. Leaders in the financial industry, such as Deloitte, Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank are known to offer full-time positions to most of their interns. Landing a full-time secure job offer before you graduate from college is a lofty but attainable goal.

It’s important to consider where you want to have your internship. If it takes place during the regular semester, you will need an internship close to your college campus to be able to make the commute, but during the summer months it’s better to have one near home to save on expenses and minimize stress. Planning for an internship in the city you wish to relocate to upon graduation is another good option to gain insight that is only available to you in person.

Next you need to determine if you’re going to consider both paid and unpaid internships. Unfortunately, the latter are more common, so you need to decide if you can afford to not get paid while your internship lasts. As a general rule paid internships tend to be more professional (and feature less grunt work) because the employer wants to get his money worth from the interns.

Another thing you need to take into account is if you want college credit for the internship. Many colleges offer some credit for internships in the major you’ve chosen. As a bonus you gain access to an established list of employers hiring for your degree. The down side is that there may be restrictions on the type and amount of work you are allowed to do based on the program guidelines.

After narrowing it down to several internship possibilities and applying to them, your work is far from being over. Similar to job-hunting, you must follow-up with each company. Calling every day is a bit excessive, but persistency is good. Follow-up with your initial contact with a phone call, follow-up your interview with a thank-you e-mail, and follow-up your thank you e-mail with a phone call to confirm it has been received and you look forward to hearing back from them. Apart from credentials and grades, the next thing on the list companies judge interns on, is their level of commitment and excitement to become part of their employee base.