Although the subzero temperatures and feet-high snow banks might not belie it, the second semester has crept up on us, and with the transition to a new semester, students across the Five Colleges and the country must begin thinking about their summer plans.
Some will return to their hometowns, while others will seek prestigious internships in their desired future fields. For those looking to land a top-notch gig, a new website has debuted, Internships.com, advising students on where to find quality internships and how to woo potential employers.
The site’s parent company, Internships LLC, is based jointly in Los Angeles and Boston, and offers students the opportunity to post their resumes, employers the chance to offer up internship openings, and career placement professionals at various colleges a leg up on finding elite jobs for students and developing relations with employers.
The site works as something of a LinkedIn for internships, as students can search for internships across a variety of categories, including field of business, city or state, for specific companies, as well as refining the search to include for-profit or non-profit-only companies, paid or unpaid internships, or for full or part-time opportunities. Further, the site offers a unique feature for applicants on the fence about the qualities they want in a job, its “Internship Predictor.”
The predictor prompts job-seekers through a variety of questions regarding personal values and tastes, asking applicants questions like whether they prefer to help others or be given lots of responsibility, and then asks interns-in-waiting to agree or disagree with several statements pertaining to preferences in interpersonal situations, like whether an applicant prefers competition or time alone. The predictor also refines the search by querying users as to whether they prefer hands-on physical work, arts-related activities, or more pragmatic, directed work. Last, the predictor asks users a final series of questions about their preferences in social settings, like whether they are generally participative in groups or more observant, or whether they are self-motivated to embark on projects or perform better under pressure.
The predictor then sets users up with a list of potential fields and links to companies hiring in the areas the user seems suited for. In addition to predicting up where a student might most like to work, the site offers job seekers wide-eyed at the competitive nature of the internship search a “resources” page, giving young job hunters the lowdown on the basics of internships, how to structure resumes, how to prepare for interviews, how to behave and perform in an office setting, and other tips, like sending thank you notes to interviewers.
Further, the site sports an “ask Internships.com” box on its home page where users can write in and receive feedback from the page’s staff. Finally, the site features an “intern coach” blog from staffer Colleen Sabatino, who posts on a variety of topics including personal organization, networking, and the fine points of accepting internships or job offers.
In a Monday e-mail, Internships.com staffer Stacey Levy explained the importance of internships for students seeking a way to get ahead in a cutthroat job market.
“Internships play a vital role for college students’ success in job acquisition and retention,” she said. “A new era of internships is being ushered in, where this real-world experience has become less of an option and more of a necessity for students to land entry-level jobs when they graduate.”
Levy added that, curiously enough, many employers actually recruit interns, rather than waiting for student to come to them.
“Almost half of the employers [in an Internships.com survey] revealed that they’ve searched for interns,” she said.
Levy said opportunities are opening up all the time.
“Almost 42 percent of employers on Internships.com say their internship program is new, which means brand new opportunities are available that didn’t exist last year.”
Although some believe a prestigious degree from a school with a devoted alumni base is the ticket to job success, Levy said the site’s employers generally beg to differ.
“Relevant experience and interview performance were the biggest factors in choosing an intern, and less than nine percent of employers said the college an intern attended mattered,” she said.
What about that one lingering hang-up, that little potential black mark, those nasty solo cup pictures on Facebook?
“54 percent of employers say they check an internship candidate’s social Web presence (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn) during the hiring process.”
Levy explained that for students to counter possibly seeming like an immature, unruly youngster, professionalism is paramount.
“As you enter the professional world, the code of conduct is important,” she said. “Be aware that what you say and pictures you post may come back to bite you. Even if they’re a tad impressed that you can continually drink liquid upside down for 38 seconds, chances are good it won’t do great things for your career.”
Whatever you ultimately decide to do with your summer, an internship may be a great way to get a jumpstart on the career of your dreams. Just be prepared to do some serious un-tagging!
Sam Butterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.