How to Get an Internship before You Graduate: 3 Must-Dos
January 26, 2018
By: Grace Munford, Deeter Gallaher Group Intern
Roughly a year ago, I realized I needed an internship. While visiting London, England, I had breakfast with a friend, Alaina, who works for BBDO Worldwide (Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn, an ad agency in New York City). As I enjoyed my full English breakfast, Alaina asked me if I had an internship or any professional experience in the marketing field —I did not. I had planned to work at summer camp and forgo an internship altogether.
I’m smart, bilingual, and quick on my feet, I don’t need an internship, I thought to myself. Boy, was I wrong. Alaina told me it would be difficult to find a job without professional experience. “Kiss your summer camp goodbye, Grace. You need an internship if you want to make it in this ever-changing, ever-competitive business world.”
In the moment, it was tough advice to swallow, but I’m so glad I listened.
Internship may be the scariest word in the college student community. According to dictionary.com, an internship is “any official or formal program to provide practical experience for beginners in an occupation or profession.” Sounds intense, right? Finding the right internship can be stressful, but with it comes experiences and connections that change the way you pursue a career. As I began my quest for an internship, I learned the following three important tips:
1. Build a Relationship with Your Career Counseling Office
Even though Alaina told me I needed an internship, I still had no idea how to get one. This is my shameless plug for the college career services office: Go meet with the Career Counseling Office at your school. It’s the first step to securing an internship for any position you desire. Career counselors are key to building a business and professional network. They know people who know people who know people. They know what the business world expects and needs from students. Career counselors are gifts from above. Know them, and use their talents to help you secure your internship.
The next step is to build your resume. A strong resume highlights your strengths and invites employers to learn more about you. In addition to a hard copy resume (yes, many employers still want you to have a physical resume), build a virtual or online resume. In my junior year, I created a WordPress blog which serves as my website. A website opens a window for future employers to see concrete examples of your work, whether they be in-class projects or real-world experiences. Prospective employers will be far more interested in your capabilities when you give them something to actually look at rather than a list of all you did while in school. Build your brand, create a website you are proud of, and make sure the first page of your Google search stands out (in a good way). Sell yourself as someone who deserves the job.
3. Take a Risk and Make the Ask
Now you’re probably wondering, “Grace, how did you get an internship with Deeter Gallaher Group?” Great question. I met with career services and was advised to attend Pizza with Professionals (a luncheon sponsored by Messiah College’s career services to help students meet professionals, network, and learn about a field of interest). The four women on the panel each had impressive experiences in business. Through their stories, I gained empowering information on how to make my place in the corporate world. After the luncheon, I introduced myself to author and PR professional Anne Deeter Gallaher and asked if she was offering opportunities to intern with Deeter Gallaher Group in the spring. It was the start of a conversation that would lead to my first internship. She didn’t ask me to intern with her initially, I asked her. I wanted to learn from the expert, so I took the initiative and asked. My risk paid off.
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.” I had no clue if Anne Deeter Gallaher would be impressed by my work and want to hire me. I did know that business experience would be a gamechanger on my resume and that I had good ideas to offer. Thankfully, she was interested, but not until I took the first step.
When looking for an internship, you have to have the confidence to make the first move. No matter how intelligent you think you are, no one is waiting in the wings to hire you. Discover what value you can add to an employer as an intern, then take the leap and ask. An internship is one of the most important steps you’ll take in the transition from college to career, so pursue one today!
Grace Munford is a senior at Messiah College graduating in May 2018 with a B.A. in Spanish and a concentration in Marketing. Originally from Houston, Texas, Grace began interning at Deeter Gallaher Group LLC in January 2018.
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