The current trend to get accepted in graduate school is to already have had internships in the area you are seeking to get a degree. It's not enough now to just pay your money. Internships are the hottest ticket in town! They are essential in this sluggish economy, both for the experience and networking potential.
Most internships are unpaid or at a minimal wage. Some internships are valid for college credit, other are not. But, one thing all internships have in common it that they give a job seeker direct experience in their given field and an opportunity to meet people in their industry.
It seems to me that a college student can't afford not to work toward getting an internship to get into the job market. And, others that are at an impasse in their career also need to consider securing an internship. It truly is the best way to network.
I spoke with Samantha Saifer, Director of Marketing for Modern Luxury Media here in Chicago, about her experience and thoughts about internships. She said, "I think interning is incredibly important! When I was in college, I spent every summer as an intern at People magazine and Conde Nast. It gave me a sense of proper office etiquette early on and helped me transition from college to the work world."
Ms. Saifer was influential in starting an internship program on CS magazine, seeing there was a need for interns to help with the increasing work load at the publication. She believed that having an internship program would be beneficial for both the interns and the magazine. In fact, one of the better interns had the opportunity to work with the publisher of CS magazine. How would you get this opportunity without an intern program?
She just filled a position on her marketing team with an intern with whom she was impressed with. The job opening never hit the job boards! This is not the first time that a job has been filled by an intern at the magazine. They value their interns and try to help them whenever they can.
At first Ms. Saifer went to universities to find interns, but now most of them are found through referrals. Every company finds interns in a different manner, so check with your university, get referrals into companies you may want to work and go directly to the company's websites for potential intern opportunites, then call.
Ms. Saifer offered some great tips for interns when they do get in a company. She said, "Treat the internship like a job interview. Even if you are not getting paid the company is watching what you do. Be flexiible and work really hard. Lastly, distinquish yourself from the other interns by asking for projects."
One final thought. I have heard of some places trying to charge potential interns for the opportunity to work at a company to gain expereince. My advice is to stay away from these firms and focus on a company that values its interns.