Are you a recent or soon-to-be graduate having trouble getting a job because you lack experience? Internships — working for free or for a small honorarium — can be a great way to gain valuable practical experience in a professional environment. If you are interested in a particular field, internships allow you to make contacts and to shadow experienced professionals to find out if it’s the right field for you.
Looking for an internship can be overwhelming, especially if you’re looking for something rewarding and educational — but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some helpful tips to consider when looking for an internship:
What to look for in an internship
The first thing to remember is that it is vital to stay open-minded to opportunities. Apply for lots of internships at a variety of companies. Keep your eye out for positions that you would be interested in or that you are qualified for. Also, look at companies where you might want to work after graduation and that have work available in your field.
Where to find internships
Most universities and colleges have a career centre with a website that posts both local and national job opportunities. These centres frequently offer resume-writing help and workshops to help you brush up on your interview skills. Use a Canadian internship search engine such as TalentEgg or Careerbuilder to find which companies are hiring and where to send your resume, and to read students’ reviews of their experiences at various businesses. You could also check out GlassDoor, which provides an inside look at job listings, salaries and company reviews. Also, be sure to search for opportunities directly on company websites.
Internship advice from a human resource expert
Ouarda Lakhouache, a human resources specialist and recruiter at Coca-Cola Canada, regularly hires interns and connects students with internship opportunities. “When looking for an internship, it is like looking for a job: Preparation is the key to success,” she says. “It is important that you don’t forget to network both in person and online using social media such as LinkedIn.” She adds that when assessing an opportunity, you should ask yourself not only how the position fits your career plans, but also if you are a good match with the culture and the values of the company.
The importance of social media
When looking for an internship, LinkedIn can be a major asset. Most recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates and additional information about potential new hires. Be sure to update your profile page with a current (and business-appropriate) photo of yourself and an up-to-date description of your experience, expertise and education. Don’t have a lot of job experience? Describe your accomplishments and responsibilities as a volunteer. Also make sure that your Facebook profile pictures, posts, likes and privacy settings are appropriate, as research by job-seeker resource Career Enlightenment shows 50% of employers use Facebook to find talent. It’s really important to understand that employers look at what you might think is “private” social media such as Facebook and Twitter to learn about potential employees, so the best advice is not to make a bad first impression!
Your next step
So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and start searching for an internship!
Do you have any comments or suggestions on how to find an internship or co-op placement? Post your comments below.
More tips for new graduates:
- Starting a new career on the right foot
- Five ways social media can help you find a job
- How to manage your reputation in social media
- Assignment: finding your first apartment
- Top five job interview blunders
Looking for a job that fits your unique skills and talents? Check out career opportunities with Sun Life Financial and follow @SunLifeCareers on Twitter.