Are Internships the New Interview?

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In the past, the primary focus for many college graduates was to interview for and find a job in their respective fields. But the reality is that the landscape is changing—and internships are becoming an important factor when it comes to potential job prospects. In fact, according to a survey by Internships.com, 69% of companies with over 100 employees offered their interns full-time jobs in 2012.[i] Not only that, but seven out of 10 interns surveyed were hired by the companies for which they interned.[i] All signs point to the fact that an internship can be an invaluable way to not only gain relevant experience, but to get your foot in the door to—possibly—get hired.

College Student Internships ...the new interview?

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What Do Companies Look for When Hiring Interns?

If you’re looking to find an internship, you’re probably wondering what companies consider when hiring interns. You may not be surprised to learn that it’s the same factors that employers look at when hiring employees. In fact, according to the survey by Internships.com, 66% of respondents reported the interview and relevant experience as the most important factors when choosing interns—this is followed by strong cover letters and resumes, academic performance, references and attendance at preferred schools.[i] As is the case with job interviews, making a good impression in person can really go a long way. And don’t worry that you’ll be overlooked if you just graduated—83% of employers surveyed would consider applications from students who are fresh out of college![i]

How Do Students Find Internships?

Students who have participated in at least one internship used a variety of methods in their internship search, according to a survey by LookSharp. The top method for finding opportunities was Google or other online searches, followed by asking friends and faculty members for help, using internship websites and visiting career fairs.[ii] When it comes to employers, a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) found that they prefer “high-touch” method for recruiting interns and co-ops—such as career fairs and on-campus recruiting.[iii]

Another strategy you may want to consider when looking for internships is to reach out to companies through cold calling, walk-in, or by email. You can also offer to volunteer with companies that you are interested in interning for, and look into government programs (at the federal, state, and local level) such as the Student Youth Employment Program, for opportunities.

How Effective Are Internships in Terms of Getting Hired?

When it comes to getting hired from an internship, it appears that the more internships you take part in, the better your chances are. According to students surveyed by LookSharp, those with three or more internships were twice as likely to receive job offers as those who only participated in one![ii] And students who were lucky enough to take part in paid internships were twice as likely to be offered jobs as those whose internships were unpaid.[ii] Not only are internships helpful when it comes to getting jobs, employees who completed an internship or co-op program with their employer are more likely to still be with the company five years later.[iii] So internships may translate into staying power as an employee!

At the end of the day, internships can be a great way to break into your industry and develop important job-related skills. If you end up being hired by the company you intern for, that’s an added bonus. We recommend that you explore as many internship opportunities as possible while you pursue your degree. The more experience you get, the more prepared you will be to enter the workforce!

[i] internships.com/eyeoftheintern/news/idc-news/internships-survey-2013-internship-trends/ | [ii] offers.looksharp.co/rs/internmatch/images/2014%20State%20of%20the%20Internship%20Report.pdf | [iii] naceweb.org/uploadedFiles/Content/static-assets/downloads/executive-summary/2014-internship-co-op-survey-executive-summary.pdf

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