Clothes for loan at USFSP's Career Center. Photo courtesy of Haley Jordan/Connect.
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Don’t pull your hair out over internships, read this instead: 12 questions with a USFSP Internship Coordinator

One in 40 college graduates are unemployed, but having an internship in college boosts your chance of being hired. According to Forbes, 60 percent of college students with paid internships are later offered a permanent position. The National Association of Colleges and Employers found that employers hired 3.4 percent more interns in 2017 than they did in 2016. Furthermore, U.S. News found that “80 percent of employers view recruiting as a primary function of internships.”  

While having an internship under your belt is an important stepping stone in your career, the process can be intimidating. Dr. Tony Silvia, professor and internship coordinator at the Department of Journalism and Digital Communication, has advice and tips that will benefit any student looking to apply for an internship.

Clothes for loan at USFSP's Career Center. Photo courtesy of Haley Jordan/Connect.

Clothes for loan at USFSP’s Career Center. Photo courtesy of Haley Jordan/Connect.

 

1. What are the benefits of having an internship?

More and more employers look at experience more than classroom learning… in today’s world, employers are very big on people who have gone out and done something and gained experience in the field. [Internships] are a game changer. It really makes a difference between those students who get jobs in the field and those who don’t after graduation.

 

2. What is the benefit of having an internship as a student vs. getting one after graduation?

After graduation, you can’t get college credit, and many places will not take interns unless they are receiving college credit… in part because of labor laws. Many places don’t want to pay interns. If you don’t pay an intern, then, generally speaking, they should be receiving college credit. Can you do an internship after college? Yes, you can, but your scope of internships is severely limited.

 

3. Where do you suggest going to find an internship?

We have a link on the website called Internships and Jobs, and the whole process is pretty much explained there. In addition, these are internships that people are offering. There are also internships that are sustaining as in they have had people before and would like people again. The other way is to find your own. We have students who meet people and start a conversation, and the person says ‘how would you like to intern?’ and there’s a new internship.

 

4. So networking is important?

Networking is everything. Networking in life is probably the most important skill you can have. Until you can meet people, it’s very hard to be successful in anything. So networking right from the start and even finding your own internship is a very important skill to learn.

 

5. What should you put on your resume and what should you leave off when applying?

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all for resumes. The basic stuff needs to be there: education, experience, internships if you’ve done some, contact info, any skills that you have. I’m one of those people that stresses that you should put your education at the top because it puts you in that club of people who have gone to college and graduated. The things that I generally tell people at this level to leave off is anything resembling an objective at the top. When you’re graduating from college, your objective is to get a job, any job related to your field. So the rest of it becomes frivolous rhetoric.

 

6. How far back would you recommend going when it comes to job experience, skills or awards?

At a certain point, once you graduate from college, you should kiss high school goodbye. You don’t want to go back too far because it almost looks like you’re still hung up on high school. That sends a contrary message to having moved toward a professional presence.

 

7. Should you tailor your resume for each internship you are applying? How would you do that?

You should always have a basic, one-size-fits-all, all-purpose resume ready. But you should also be very careful in looking at what are called the ‘job specs’ or job specifications for a particular job, and tailor your resume for that job, to that job. If it says they want these particular skills, whatever they are, stress those skills… as long as you’re telling the truth and being accurate, and actually have those skills. Make sure that those things are featured prominently on your resume for that job.

 

8. When is the best time to have an internship? Summer, spring or fall?

I don’t think there is a best time. I think in general, more students seem to think that they have more time in the summer than they do in the fall or spring because they are not taking classes.

 

9. How far in advance should you start talking to people and sending in a resume when applying for an internship?

Give it a least a month in time, maybe two.

 

10. What tips do you have for writing a cover letter? Is a cover letter necessary for applying for an internship?

It depends, if they ask for one then you give one. A cover letter should never say ‘dear sir/madam,’ it should always be addressed to the person who is the decision maker in terms of who gets that job. It should also tell your story beyond ‘I’m applying for this job, and here is why I want it.’ It should tell something unique about you. Something that connects [you] to the job but that shows why you’re the best person for the job. The cover letter, like the resume, should be tailored to what the job says it is.  

 

11. What is the process for getting your internship to count toward school credit?

Here, you have to have nine credits in your major. The process is you apply, having met the criteria*, and then there’s a learning contract on the website, and you fill it out jointly with the supervisor you would have on-site, and then I read it through, and if you’ve met the criteria in terms of prerequisites then I sign off on it, and you get a permit to register.

*criteria/required classes changes per major

 

12. Do you have any tips for after getting the internship?

The most important thing is to show up. The most important thing is to not miss any days when you’re supposed to be there, to be punctual, to follow the rules of wherever it is that you are… and to generally be reliable. If someone asks you to do something, and you don’t know how to do it, then ask. If you do know how to do it, then do it. And have a lot of initiative. When people don’t tell you to do things, be ready to do things. Volunteer. In many places, they want to see your initiative, your motivation. They want to see if you will come forward with an idea or something to do that day.

 

If you have any other questions or are ready to start the internship process, visit the career center’s internships page here

Information for this article found at https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffreydorfman/2017/01/23/dispelling-the-myth-of-underemployed-college-graduates/#57e2973f502c, https://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2012/07/25/odds-are-your-internship-will-get-you-a-job/#563ebf6e62e5, https://www.naceweb.org/job-market/internships/internship-and-co-op-hiring-make-gains-in-2017/, https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/05/05/study-suggests-college-graduates-benefit-more-from-paid-internships

 

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