One of the most common issues I hear from students seeking internship help is that they’re simply too scared to apply.
They don’t feel ready. They don’t feel as experienced as their peers. They think they haven’t had relevant jobs. They say their classmates are further ahead of them. They don’t know how to put together a resume or cover letter.
Strange as it sounds, I actually love hearing these laments. That’s because it’s so easy to put these students at ease – all it takes is a little bit of assistance pulling out pieces of their own experiences and highlighting the way they match an employer’s needs. These are the students who enter my office full of insecurities and indecision and leave feeling much more confident, armed with the knowledge that they DO have valuable skills, there ARE plenty of internship options out there, and that Columbia College Chicago is 100% behind them.
The best advice I can offer? Be open-minded – not only about what will appeal to an employer, but also about which internships you are willing to accept.
For example, internship supervisors tell me over and over that reliability, enthusiasm, and willingness to learn are among the most sought-after traits for many opportunities. These are skills that can be displayed in all kinds of ways – including experience working in fast-food restaurants and retail stores, babysitting gigs, or even class projects.
Just because you haven’t worked, say, in a public relations firm doesn’t mean you can’t sell yourself as someone who will show up to a public relations internship on time, excited about what the day holds, and willing to do what’s needed to move forward in the position and learn about the field. I’ve seen that happen time and time again with students who claim they have “no experience” – but who actually have the attitude and outlook that make them a prime candidate.
As far as being open-minded about what kind of internship you’re willing to accept, think about this: an internship that “sounds boring’’ to you might be just the experience that sets you apart from 20 (or more!) other applicants for your dream internship a semester or two later.
For example, many students I’ve worked with have tried to avoid business-related communication internships, because they feel uninformed and uninterested about the idea of “business” and are more interested, they say, in lifestyle and entertainment. But with a little bit of coaching and some broader thinking, they come to realize that “business” encompasses many different things – and frequently touches on the very fields in which they are most interested.
So, an internship with a company that writes about market trends, for example, can yield writing samples that include trends related to beauty, luxury items and – yes— entertainment and lifestyle. Work experience like this is worth its weight in gold on a resume. It shows an intern’s willingness to tackle new topics and skills, dig deeper into a subject matter, and presents themselves as more prepared than others for the next internship or job. They stepped outside of their comfort zone and learned a little more about the world than they otherwise would have known.
The beauty of all of this is that Columbia students don’t have to do any of it on their own! Log on to Handshake to request an appointment for resume assistance or internship advising. The Career Center will set you up with an Internship and Career Advisor who specializes in your field of study.
I promise: you’ll feel better once you do! And so will the future employers who are waiting to hear from you!
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