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Bentley on Bloomberg: How to Make the Most of the College Internship
There is no question: internships are more than a great way to add experience to students’ resumes, they are now a necessity as more and more companies around the country require them for first-time job seekers.
According to a 2015 survey from NACE, the National Association of Colleges and Employers, an employer was far more likely to offer a job to a student prior to graduation if he or she had an internship or co-op—especially a paid position. The gap in offer rates between students with internship/co-op experience and those without such experience grew from 12.6 percent in 2011 to 20 percent in 2015 (56.5 percent versus 36.5 percent).
As students make their way through their college career, participating in one or more internships is essential for them to have the opportunity to translate the knowledge they learn in the classroom to a real world setting (with relatively low stakes).
With more and more companies requiring formal internships on a resume to land a job, how can students prepare themselves to make the most of this experience?
Bentley President Gloria Larson joined Bloomberg Radio’s Carol Massar and Cory Johnson, along with guest experts, to discuss what students can do before and during their internship to make their investment worthwhile.
Take the time to discover what you like and what you don’t like
Internships are so important because it is the time for students to test out their strengths and learn what they like and, just as important, what they don’t like. As our vice president of career services Susan Brennan often says, today’s mantra for companies is, recruit once and hire twice. Internships have become a 60 day trial period and allow employers (and candidates) to assess fit before making a long-term commitment.
Don’t obsess over your “dream” internship
There is too much emphasis on the word "internship." Every student should seek high quality summer or part-time employment that will give them experience in their chosen career path and allow them to contribute real-world results to a company or organization. There are many companies with world class internship programs such as Liberty Mutual, EMC and TJMaxx, to name a few. However, there are a finite number of slots in each program. As a result, students need to get good at networking and find a role that is strategic to their career path, regardless of the internship title.
Be curious and ask questions
Most likely, students will be assigned to a project at some point during the internship experience and immediately feel lost. My advice is to embrace the chase of new knowledge. Students should accept that they are not going to know everything, move forward and ask a lot of good questions. There is no better way to learn about a job, company or industry than prodding their insightful team members for knowledge.
Take advantage of on-campus mentors before your internship starts
Students don’t have to wait until they arrive at their internship to learn how to be a professional in the workplace. Faculty, academic advisors and career services offices are all important resources for students to leverage during the academic year. All of these resources can provide insight to the organization or industry that they will be entering and what the culture might be like during their internship.
Learn more about Bentley’s PreparedU Project, which examines challenges facing millennial workers, the companies that employ them and the colleges and universities that prepare them.
The Yawkey Foundations have recognized Bentley University’s longstanding commitment to service-learning and awarded the university $500,000 to educate students to effectively lead nonprofit organizations and expand student efforts to help community groups.