It can often be more difficult for first year students to find a summer internship but it is not impossible for them to find something that will lend to their current knowledge and skills. Doing something substantial will help students prepare to get a great internship after their sophomore year. First year students are often viewed by employers as candidates possessing less knowledge and limited skills than upperclassman going to the same college. It is obvious that a first year student will have less academic preparedness and experience than their upperclassmen; but employers also find that these differences may depend more on the individual attributes of candidates than it does on age and class year.
As a first year student it is important to begin taking some risks by facing the challenges it takes to land an internship or a job. Reaching out to family, friends, previous teachers and employers is a logical first step. As a first year student you may not know what type of internship you want.
Conducting informational interviews will help you get a better handle on specific careers as well as what employers look for when hiring talented new professionals.
Polishing Up Your Resume & Cover Letter
Working on your resume and cover letter with a career counselor at your college will help you to create professional documents that will make employers take notice. Although as a first year student you may feel that you have nothing to put on a resume, after speaking to a counselor you may find that you have more things you can put down than you thought. A resume highlights previous and current experiences that provides employers with an outline of your skills and previous accomplishments. This may include high school and college coursework, internships, jobs, community service, co-curricular experiences, and working as a volunteer at a nonprofit organization. Your career counselor can provide help with your resume and cover letter to ensure that your most relevant experiences stand out.
Using Social Media as a Tool
One thing that all college students have as an advantage, is their ability to utilize social media to their benefit. Many companies seek students to help them with their social media campaigns since many of their more senior employees are not familiar and don't know how to use it to the company's advantage. Social media can also be a great way to get your name out there when seeking a summer internship or job. Be sure to check out the video, Tips for Using Social Media to Find an Internship, listed on my About.com site.
Creating a Blog and/or a Website
Many students today have their own blog and websites. This is an excellent way to highlight your interests and skills by getting your name out there. Blogs are a good way to work on your writing skills and are a good way to showcase your skills for employers seeking a college student for an internship or entry-level job. For some professionals like photography, journalism, etc., having an online portfolio really gives an employer a good opportunity to learn more about candidates even prior to the first interview.
Even though first year students are often not yet sure of their major, first year gives them an opportunity to explore and research how specific majors relate to future career options. When conducting this research students can also determine what types of internships others do to get some experience in the field they are looking to pursue.
The Importance of Internships
In today’s job market doing an internship is not just a good idea; it is a must in order to be considered for employment with certain companies. Whether you’re doing community service or volunteer work or something more tangible, by doing these experiences you are showing employers that you have the motivation and initiative to succeed on the job.
Ask Those in the Know
You can also talk to your professors and other students to find out about internships that they know of. Your peers may be able to provide information on internships they have completed or heard about through one of their personal networks. Faculty work with students all the time and often hear back from students on both the good and bad summer internship experiences they had. Some faculty maintain a departmental website that includes information on internships in the field, or they may just keep a list that they share with students in class or in one-on-one appointments.
Looking to the Future
You may decide to continue with your previous summer jobs the summer after your first year in college (and that's ok too), but it's important to give yourself some time to try out different experiences in order to decide which ones you would like to pursue when selecting a career following your college graduation.
By Penny Loretto