Many of the top internship positions have application deadlines in the fall and winter, so you should be furiously researching to find out to which companies you will apply. I know this feels like the runaround you got while applying to colleges, but it is vitally important to yourself.
So what is an internship and why should I do one?
During your summer months if there are no classes you need to take, go work for someone who will let you get hands on experience at whatever you are working towards. This is an internship, and it is one of the most important things you can do to ensure that you have a job once you graduate. An internship is a temporary position that emphasizes on-the-job training rather than merely employment making it similar to an apprenticeship. The pay is often low, but some internship positions pay more. The higher the pay or prestige, the more competition you will face in getting that internship, so work your tail off and get good grades. Internships provide real-world experience in the career you are planning to do, so it lets you see if that career is really what you want. It also opens your eyes to other careers you never knew existed. Internships allow you to try out what you think you want to do. It also allows you to build business skills so you aren’t clueless on the job. You will be amazed how many job skills are transferrable or useful at each successive job. Your various job experiences bring extra value to the companies that you will work for.
When starting out a career you need to be aware that at this point you are more of a liability to most companies. Experience has taught most business owners to view young adult workers with an extra dose of suspicion. Most young adults don’t know how to work hard and expect their bosses to cater to them. I hope you know this but when you go to work you are paid to work VERY hard. The amount of work demanded of you will seem unreasonable at first, but you will grow into it. As you gain experience, you will become more productive and able to get more done in the same amount of time. Add this to a good work ethic and over time you will become a very valuable commodity. As a future star, you may have the wonderful experience of having companies bid for your services. Listen to this verse:
Proverbs 22:29 (NIV)
Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank.
It feels good to be wanted. You need to work hard for a long time to become skilled. Daniel Coyle argues in the Talent Code that it generally takes ten years of determined practice to master the skills of any profession. This means it’s going to take time. Take the internship as an opportunity to learn. Do what you are told, figure out when to ask questions, stay quiet, and work hard. Your job is to learn, and don’t expect your coworkers to take your advice that seriously. If you show them you are a hard worker, it will make the decision to keep you a no brainer. A young worker is a potential gold mine to an employer because they typically cost half as much as a seasoned pro. Because of the general characteristics of the average young worker, this will still be a risky proposition for an employer. Internships allow companies the chance to try out workers on a low risk (meaning low cost) proposition. When you show that you aren’t the typical lame young adult, you will be in a really good place come graduation.