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To intern as an underclassman or not?

Are you a freshman or sophomore thinking about getting an internship or a co-op? One look at the stats below will tell you you’re thinking on the right track.

  • 60% of 2012 college graduates who participated in an internship received at least one job offer

  • 95% of employers are looking for college grads with experience

  • Organizations converted 58.6% of their interns into full-time hires (highest recorded percentage)

  • 83.4% of employers say that their internship program is designed to help their organization recruit entry-level hires

  • Top skills for college hires: critical thinking, written/oral communication, teamwork, and recent work experience in the field.

Statistics provided by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

Internships are not just for juniors anymore. Allowing yourself to have a multitude of work experience is one of the best gifts you can give yourself during your college career. This experience will not only prepare and benefit you when you’re looking for jobs after graduation, it will help you decide if it’s the right career field.

Often, many college students rob themselves of experience early on because they want another summer at home with friends or don’t think they will be able to get an internship. Think about it though… when you’re working an internship you usually get paid, may live in a new city, and meet tons of new people. I’m not saying getting an internship after your freshman year is easy by any means; in fact it will be a daunting process that will leave you discouraged at times. If you don’t try though, how will you know?

During the second semester of my freshman year, I would come home from classes and applied for 3-4 internships a day, which added up to about 50 companies. One company called me back, of which I was lucky enough to land the job. If I would have allowed myself to get discouraged about the other 49 companies, I would have given up and lost out on an opportunity.

Another lesson I had to learn early on was to not set my hopes and expectations on one company. Though it is possible, it is unlikely you will get your foot into the door of your dream company right away, so what should you do in the meantime? Your dream company is probably your dream company because they do awesome and wonderful things – which are probably conducted by top talent. If you have zero experience, what do you have to offer them in this moment? Well, not much. If fact, you will need guidance, teaching, and mentoring, which is timely and costly.

See what I’m saying? You need to be OK working your way up the chain: start with a company that you never would have expected to work for or face the realization that you don’t need to work for a Fortune 100 company to be successful. Let them teach you professional skills, build up your resume, and prove yourself through challenging projects.

Remember those statistics at the beginning of this post? Those tell you that if you approach your dream company senior year with some experience, a drive to learn, and more importantly the initiative to set yourself apart from your peers – they will likely take a closer look at your resume and consider you as a noteworthy candidate for a full-time position.

Finally, remember… Luck is merely the residue of hard work and design.

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