Gaining Experience Through Postgraduate Internships

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As you approach graduation, you will want to begin thinking about all of your options if you have not yet landed a job in your field. Some jobs require prior experience while other jobs do not require any previous experience at all. Oftentimes employers want to train new employees to their own way of doing things and they prefer that new hires don’t have to be un-trained from what they’ve learned on another internship or job.

On the other hand, job applicants with prior internship or job experience are often preferred by employers not only because of their knowledge and skills in the field; but also because they understand the field and know that it’s something they really want to pursue after college.

The Effect of the Recession on Postgrad Success

Since the beginning of the recession, you will hear countless stories from recent graduates on how they were forced to take any job available, even if it didn’t relate at all to what they studied in college. This has been a very frustrating experience for many new graduates since they found themselves doing mundane work that didn’t relate to their interests or future career goals.

This has also had a profound effect on their financial outlook since once they were able to get a job in their field, they found themselves behind financially since they had to start with entry-level jobs and only getting their dream jobs three or more years out of college.

Should I Look for Internships as Well as Full-Time Jobs?

One of the questions that college students often ask is if it’s better to take just any job after college, or is it better to try to get more experience in the field perhaps by doing an internship.

The answer is not the same for everyone. A lot depends on your current knowledge and skill level as well as the field you are looking to go into. Another consideration is the shape of your current financial resources and how much money you will need to pay for your personal expenses. 

Location can be a consideration as well. Large corporations that are willing to take on new graduates for their internship programs may pay adequately to sustain you; while other programs expect their interns to work for free which may not be a consideration at this point when you will need to begin paying your own expenses.

If you are graduating this year and have not yet found a full-time job, internships may be the answer. Not only will an internship provide you with experience, often times a company’s interns are the first ones considered for any future full-time job openings.

Don’t Forget About the Value of Networking

Be sure you speak with everyone you know to let them know what your plans are. Close family and friends and even acquaintances may hear of internship or job openings that you might not find out about otherwise. Your college’s alumni are another good source for networking.

Check with the Career Development Center at your college to see if they have alumni contacts that are willing to work with college students as they navigate the internship/job search process. Don’t forget that networking is the #1 job search strategy available.

Make Your Both Search Specific and Broad

Be sure to make an appointment with the Career Development Center at your college to make sure that you are aware of all of the thousands of internships that are posted each year. Each internship listing will usually have a list of requirements and qualifications and often will state if they will take new graduates or not.

Once you are sure that your resume and cover letter are ready to send out, be sure to take a proactive approach and apply for every internship that meets your qualifications. Also, be sure to check out Facebook and LinkedIn to see what opportunities are out there and to help employers to be better able to find you.

Create an Internship of Your Own

The third way of looking for internships is through prospecting. Prospecting means looking for employers that would hire individuals with your skills in locations that you are interested in working. Many organizations do not advertise their internships or may consider an intern even if they are not advertising or if they have not had an intern before.

Internships Are Not Only for College Students

Over the past few years, we have witnessed the rise in high school students that participate in internships. In addition to this population, many individuals interested in making a career transition are also looking at internships as a way to segue into a new career field where they have little to no experience thus far.

Although it may be difficult to take on an internship where there is little to no pay, it may be even more frustrating remaining in your current job or taking one that doesn’t require the skills of the field you are looking to go into. Sometimes internships are the necessary evil in order to get you where you ultimately want to go.

Double-Check Your Resume and Cover Letter

When applying for internships with a resume and cover letter, be sure to check the following prior to sending out your documents:

5 Steps to Improve a Resume

  • Organize your information
  • Highlight your qualifications
  • Use bullet points to display important information
  • Include only relevant information and remove any clutter
  • Make sure your resume is error-free

5 Steps to Improve a Cover Letter

  • Address your cover letter to the right person
  • Capture the reader's attention
  • Make your cover letter stand out 
  • Make sure your cover letter is error-free
  • Ask for an interview at the end of your letter

By following these 10 steps you will be well on your way to getting yourself noticed by employers in hopes of getting called for an interview. The sole purpose of a resume and cover letter is to land an interview, so the effort it takes to improve your documents is well worth the effort.