Is an internship right for you?

How do you gain work experience in your interest area if you are in high school, college or even changing careers? One opportunity to consider is an internship.

Work experience is essential in today’s job market. But how do you gain work experience in your area of interest if you are in high school, college, or even changing careers? One opportunity to consider is an internship.

Internships allow you to sharpen your résumé, learn new skills, and develop professional contacts while potentially earning some money and/or receiving educational credit. Another major advantage of internships is they allow you to experience firsthand what a career in different industries is like before you invest thousands of dollars on tuition and countless hours in a classroom.

Of course, one of the biggest benefits to internships is that they provide a foot in the door to possible full-time employment. Internships allow employers to evaluate potential employee candidates as well as allow the student to see if the company is a good fit. Not surprisingly, 93% of employers surveyed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reported plans to hire students for internship positions in 2011, up 7% from the previous year. Also found in this report is that 67% of interns were offered jobs after they completed their commitment.

Selecting the right internship can pay off as well. According to the 2011 NACE survey, graduates who took part in a paid internship were more likely to get a job offer, have a job when they graduated, and received a higher starting salary than their peers. It might seem the job duties of paid and unpaid interns may differ in quality of “real experience.” Employers who pay their interns may have higher expectations and provide more opportunities to gain “professional skills,” whereas unpaid interns seemed to spend more time on clerical duties.

Finding an internship that meets your career interests, financial needs, and educational expectations requires doing some research and investigation first. Seek assistance from teachers, counselors, job placement personnel, academic advisors, family members and friends. Online resources are also available at www.intern.careernetwork.msu.edu, www.internships.com, and www.internmichigan.com

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