Congratulations – you’ve got the ultimate resume-builder.
As school winds down, most students are looking ahead to the summer, hopefully one that includes lots of vacation. But there’s this inconvenient thing called money – you need it if you’re to go on vacation. So a lot of us will be spending at least part of the summer months working. Which brings me to the subject of experience, and the student’s Catch-22: You need experience to get a job, but you can’t get a job unless you have experience.
Enter the internship.
Almost any kind of summer job will get you to one goal: You’ll earn a few bucks and maybe even be able to save a little. But an internship can be different. For one thing, people tend to take internships in a profession or a field that interests them. Besides pulling down a salary, you’re gaining relevant experience that not only looks good on your resume but which could one day lead you to a real grown-up job in your chosen field.
I’ve had a few internships in my day – one here at BookRenter – so I hope you’ll indulge my sharing with you these…
Five easy ways to turn an Internship into the Ultimate Resume-Builder
- Know up front what you’re applying for. Understanding what an internship entails and what you’re likely to be doing day to day will help you gauge what you can actually contribute the job – and whether the internship will be valuable to you in terms of building your experience in the professional world.
- Never underestimate the importance of your work. Regardless of your job title (if you have one!), be prepared to so some good, old-fashioned menial labor. My first task at BookRenter was quality fulfillment: packaging and mailing the prizes that some of you reading this probably won (you’re welcome, punks). It wasn’t glorious work, but it was important to our customers. Bring a positive attitude to everything you do and I guarantee you won’t be in the mailroom for long.
- Show ‘em what you’re made of. If you don’t have anything to do, take the initiative – believe me, there’s nothing that a busy boss likes more than an employee who can identify a need and find a way to fill it. Come up with your own projects – propose them to your boss or, when you can, just do them. Not only are you creating more good stuff for your resume, you’ll probably be able to count on a great reference when the time comes.
- Learn at least one new thing every day. Ask a colleague to tell you more about your company. Ask your manager if you can borrow a magazine you heard him talking about or review a creative brief. Time spent reading and thinking about the bigger picture will not only help you do your job better, but position you to take on more responsibilities when an opportunity comes along. (Remember, you’re building a resume.)
- Don’t turn up your nose at working for free. While ideally you want to learn and earn, an unpaid internship can be worth its weight in gold when it comes to getting some experience under your belt – and onto your resume. You might even find yourself fielding a job offer or two: A recent poll by CareerExposure.com found that more than 90% of employers ultimately offer full-time positions to interns.