English Major Musings is an evergreen Paperback Paris column curated by Contributing Writer Alicia LeBoeuf.
I strongly believe that all college students (no matter what their major is) should try to get at least one internship before they graduate. A degree definitely matters when it comes to looking for employment post-graduation, but an internship can do wonders when it comes to expanding your experience and skill set, which makes your resume appear more attractive to potential employers. When it comes to internships, the number of benefits they can provide cannot be overlooked.
I started this school year finding myself not one but two internships. I was a bit stressed out about trying to balance two internships with school and other obligations, but I knew that it was probably the right choice to accept both instead of turning down the other. As the semester and my internships, near an end, I can honestly say that I don’t regret having my internships. Instead, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities they have provided. I have been able to build upon my current skills and gain many new skills in the process.
For example, during my public relations internship, I’ve learned more about social media than I ever would have in the classroom. I was able to publish Facebook posts on a page with over 13,000 likes, and the fact that I was trusted with such responsibility helped me gain more confidence in my abilities.
In my editorial internship, I was able to take part in the process of creating a magazine, in which I learned how to use different software programs that I was, up to that point, completely ignorant to. I could go on and on about what I’ve learned from my internships, but maybe that’s for another post.
When it comes to applying for internships, I think there are several components that go into students not wanting to try for them. The biggest deterrent, I think, is many students are under the impression that they are “underqualified” and don’t stand a chance. I cannot emphasize enough how this feeling of inadequacy should not prevent you from going after the internships you really want. To put things into perspective, I, too, felt incredibly underqualified for both of the internships that I currently have—I was only a sophomore when I applied and interviewed for these internships and I had no previous experience beforehand.
My biggest advice for those of you feeling unprepared for an internship: apply for it anyway! Work on your resume and cover letter, put together a portfolio, and bring your best self to the interview. You would be surprised how much influence the interview, experience aside, can carry. The worst thing that can happen is that you don’t get the internship. At least you tried, and that means something. It shows you’re determined.
For a lot of students, they don’t even know where to begin when scouting for internship opportunities. My advice is to take advantage of all those college resources you have at your disposal. Make an appointment with your career services department, have a one-on-one session with your advisor, dig through your school’s website; believe it or not, your school does want to help you land that internship.
Depending on your college, there should almost always be a good amount of internships offered on-campus. If you have your sights set on opportunities beyond your campus, visit the websites of businesses that you are interested in working for—there are myriad search engines out there that cater to seeking out internships.
I understand that working on resumes and cover letters might not sound like the most exciting task in the world, but doing so constantly is important to your success. So do take it seriously. I spent hours making sure I got the information, layout, wording, grammar, formatting, etc. correct on my resume. What you say on your resume and your cover letter are important, but so is how you say it. Take your time and make sure it’s the best it can be before sending it out.
Taking the time and effort to search for internships, build resumes, cover letters, and portfolios, as well as preparing for and attending interviews is demanding. I understand that. Life is full of obligations, and adding an unpaid internship to that list might not seem ideal at first. But it’s one of those things where if you do the work now, you will thank yourself later. Internships are, for the most part, rewarding experiences that allow you to gain experience while learning from professionals and having the chance to network with them. Don’t let these kinds of opportunities pass you by.
English majors especially should be keen on obtaining an internship, since it’s important to show how applicable a degree in English can be out in the real world. Of course, there is that notion out there that English majors aren’t studying in a ‘practical’ area and might have difficulty finding any sort of job experience. However, I want to point out that I’m an English major with two internships, and I know people with more ‘practical’ majors who have zero. Don’t dwell on stereotypes. Instead, focus on your future.
Stay tuned for the next installment of English Major Musings at Paperback Paris!
What have been your experiences with landing college internships?
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