After a grueling initial interview, you have reached the second interview stage and you find out the position is going to come down between you and two other applicants. Each of you possess similar credentials from credible academic institutions, held office in a couple of academic clubs, and sport impressive GPAs. The Department Manager reviews the resumes one more time and decides on one of your competitors.
Why did they pick him / her? Because last summer, while you were soaking up the sun and surf in San Diego, your competition was gaining valuable on-the-job experience, volunteering their time through an unpaid internship. Even though all of the paid internships through the Placement Office were taken, there was another little-used option … the unpaid internship. If you are still looking for a strategy that can help your career in the long run, consider these factors about an unpaid internship:
Training costs are a major factor considered by business entities when making hiring decisions. Department Managers want to be sure that (1) you can be brought up to speed on job duties quickly, (2) you can successfully function in the corporate culture. An internship targeting your career path can provide you valuable real-world experience that your resume writer can use to give your resume the edge over the competition.
Additionally, your future employer only has to check your references to learn that you take direction well and respond to supervisor input … factors many employers wish they had known about recent college graduates before the hiring decision was made.
We’ve all heard the phrase “It’s not what you know … it’s WHO you know.” Being ejected from a bachelor degree program without any connections puts you behind the proverbial eight ball right away. Working an internship gives you the opportunity to build your network within the industry even before you are available for permanent hire.
While your internship employer may not be in a hiring mode at the time, they may be able to point you in the right direction … and even put in a good word for you. Imagine the weight this can carry in a close competition with another graduate.
SHOW YOUR DEDICATION
Want to “WOW”an interviewer? Tell him how you volunteered your time in the summer to learn the industry and position specifics … and that you did it for nothing! Congratulations … you have immediately communicated your dedication and seriousness to your career in the eyes of your interviewer. Now, when you convey to them that you are looking to be a serious player in the company and the profession, it is backed by your willingness to sacrifice your free time to do so.
Let’s not forget “you” in this equation. How do you know if this career path is for you? Does the profession have inherent characteristics you wouldn’t find out about in a classroom setting? Your internship just might show you that this path isn’t for you … before it is too late.
There are many employers who would love the luxury of to bring someone in to perform ground-level duties for a couple of months and not have to pay the associated employee costs, so a little leg work will surely find you a position that can give you the experience and professional insight you can use to get you over the top. Just remember, next summer’s beach trip will be much more enjoyable with a paycheck to fund it.