A high GPA is a wonderful achievement, but it’s not the only thing you’ll need to land your first full-time position. It’s better if you balance your high grades with real-world experience.
Hiring managers know they will have to train you in an entry-level position, but you will get an edge on your competition if you’ve already learned the basics. For example, if you want a job in marketing and have a 3.8 GPA with no experience, you might lose out to someone with a 3.5 GPA and a couple of internships – with good references – at marketing firms.
In fact, statistics from the National Association of Colleges and Employers show:
• 65 percent of bachelor’s degree graduates from the Class of 2015 participated in a co-op or internship
• Almost all employers prefer to hire job candidates with work experience.
Some tips on incorporating an internship into your already busy lifestyle:
What type of internship to pursue
Many college students have a part-time job that pays the bills, such as in retail or at a restaurant. But if you’re studying to be an accountant, for example, it would be much more beneficial to find a part-time job or internship that allows you to work with numbers, or at least a position in an office setting with some exposure to the business world. If you already have a full-time job, see if you can work a few hours a week with a tax preparer during tax season, or volunteer with a nonprofit that needs some bookkeeping help.
Where to find an internship
If you don’t have any job experience within your field of study, you can still find a position that helps you gain experience. Your professors and career counselors at school often hear from companies in the community that are looking for interns (paid and unpaid). For example, a marketing firm might need interns who can answer the phones and handle office work, with the chance of getting their feet wet on actual marketing-related work.
Other ways to find these positions:
•On LinkedIn, you can browse not only job listings but also internship opportunities
•Internships.com is a website that is dedicated solely to internship listings
•Look on the website of professional associations and go to their events
•Review the websites of places you would like to work to see if they post any positions
•Talk with friends and neighbors, who might know someone
•Conduct research and cold call!
What to do when you get an internship
As with anything else in life, when you work hard you’ll likely find opportunities you never imagined. That’s why you need to treat your internship like it’s an audition – because many times it is. Employers love when interns are ready for full-time work because the company doesn’t have to embark on a search that takes time and money. When the entry-level opening is there, you might just get it.
Also, even if the company doesn’t have an opening right now, be sure to stay in touch because if the company likes you, they’ll want to bring you back. Again, familiarity is a big edge. They would rather hire you – especially if you’ve completed some high-level work – than someone they don’t know.
If, once you start, you realize that particular company isn’t for you long-term, that’s OK. Do a great job anyway, realize it’s not the type of work – or place of work – you want and come away with real-world experience and a great reference!
Remember that in the job search it’s not necessarily about you and your dreams – it’s about your prospective employer and its needs. The more you can show you can meet those needs, the better your chances of landing a job. It all starts with an internship.
What to learn more about our business program? Learn more here.