An internship can be the solution to one of the greatest questions that an entrant into the workforce faces.  You can’t get a job without experience and you can’t get experience without having a job!  One of the recurring themes in any entry-level job search is the lack of experience factor. "Where do I get experience if no one is willing to hire me?" The answer is simple: Get an internship!

Work experience not only makes you more marketable as a job candidate, it also gives you the opportunity to gain a greater understanding about  chosen field. You will have an opportunity to find out many of the positives and negatives in advance, and truly enter the field with your eyes wide open. This may also give you the chance to step back in a timely way from what could have been a major career mistake.

Interships can benefit you by:

  • Enhancing a resume with career related experience.
  • Building contacts for future job searches.
  • Learning more about your chosen industry or field.
  • Applying academic learning to hands-on situations.
  • Becoming more knowledgeable about general work functions.
  • Investigating organizational culture.
  • Learning career-related skills such as, public speaking, report-writing, dealing with customers.
  • Polishing communication skills needed in the workplace.

If you are undecided whether or not to pursue an internship, the statistics alone should convince you to do at least one. Employers overwhelmingly point to internship experience as the most important factor they consider in hiring new employees for full-time positions. Why? If you have made the most out of the internship experience: a) You are field-tested as someone who probably has ‘the right stuff’; b) You’ve proven you are truly committed to your chosen field; c) You won’t need much hand holding and training. As Peter Vogt, MonsterTRAK’s career coach says, “ Research shows that 85 percent of companies use internships and similar experiential education programs to recruit for their full-time workforces.”

Internship Length

An internship is normally 10-12 weeks (or semester-long if in college) of supervised work experience related to a student's major or career goal (may be eligible for academic credit in college).  The work experience may be part-time or full-time, paid or unpaid.  Important elements structured into the college internship experience which distinguishes it from a short-term job or volunteer work is an intentional self-directed learning strategy, reflection - both verbal and written  and an emphasis on professional development.

Students in the second half of their sophomore year should be looking for internship opportunities. This is an ideal time to do an internships so they can see where their studies might lead in the real world. By starting early, they may also have the opportunity to do multiple internships, learning more from each experience. They may learn, for example, that they are born academics and should pursue graduate work rather than an immediate career.

A local internship may only require 10 - 15 hours of their time, whereas a summer internship in the national arena may only be limited by the amount of time they are willing to contribute. Moreover, regardless of time commitment, the path to converting an internship to a permanent job may be determined by the quality and consistency of a student's initiative, team cooperation and dedicated effort.

Finding an Internship

Landing an internship may take some work but you can now see all of the benefits available for your hard work.  Your USCG Counselor can help you draft a solid resume, fine tune your interviewing skills and network with professionals.  Basically,  an internship requires drive and skill to acquire and future employers will recognize that drive on your resume. Your internship can strengthen your resume and give you lifelong connections and experiences to benefit your career.

There are a number of sources you can consult to obtain an internship.  If you are seeking an opportunity in a more specified geographic area, your USCG Counselor can assist you with more resources as well as ideas for more targeted leads.  Some links you may want to consult are:

  • Rising Star Internships:  A listing of companies, organizations and agencies around the world who are searching for bright, talented individuals in whom to invest their future. 
  • A national database of internships for students and recent graduates. Internship seekers can search the database by keywords or location.
  • Click on Students in the Career Center and then click Search Internships/Entry Level Jobs.
  • Get the inside scoop on some popular internship sites.