FIU’s internship and career fairs just wrapped up, offering students the chance to explore employment opportunities available in all fields of study.
Why participate in internships? The most important reason to complete an internship in college is that it will provide you the real-world work experience in your chosen field of study that employers seek above all else in potential new hires.
“Internships allow students to gain valuable experiences that help build and refine their skills, increase their knowledge about their field of study, and help them create professional relationships,” said Ruth Pacheco, Ph.D., executive director for integrated industry partnerships and career readiness at FIU.
Other important reasons to participate in at least one internship before graduation include:
- They help you apply the knowledge learned in the classroom to real-world scenarios.
- They allow you to “try out” your career before jumping in headfirst. You can explore different areas within your field of study to find the best fit.
- An internship can even help you decide if the career you’re considering is truly your passion.
The key to landing the perfect internship is preparation. Like finding a full-time job after graduation, a lot of work as well as self-reflection goes into the search and application process. You’ll need a stellar resume and cover letter, and it’s always a good idea to participate in practice interviews to hone your skills. Visit FIU Career and Talent Development (CTD) to get the process started.
Be sure to keep these things in mind when you’re ready to start the search for the perfect internship:
- Start the search and application process at least one semester before the semester you plan to complete the internship. This is particularly important if you plan to participate in a semester-long internship. Internships can vary in length from a few weeks to a year or longer. So, if you want to complete one in the spring, you’ll need to find and apply for it in the fall. This will also give you time to determine with your academic department whether the internship qualifies for academic credit.
- Join Handshake.Handshake is an online tool available at no cost to students and alumni, which allows you to search for internship and job opportunities posted by employers for FIU Panthers. Through Handshake, you can also register for career fairs, view webinars and other career development resources, and schedule an appointment with a CTD career advisor.
- Prep your resume using VMock, an online tool available to students at no cost, which uses artificial intelligence to review your resume and provide feedback. Be sure to bring your draft with you to your career advising appointment.
- Set learning goals for your internship experience. Before your internship, take some time to reflect on what you’d like to get out of the experience, and write these goals down. This will help you narrow your internship search to find the best fit, and it will also guide your experience once you are hired. You are also encouraged to complete a Learning Goals Agreement (available through CTD) with your employer to identify learning objectives that will serve both you and the organization you will be working with.
- Practice, practice, practice. CTD offers workshops to boost your resume and cover letter writing skills. You can also register to participate in CTD’s practice interview sessions to obtain feedback that will help you prepare for the real deal.
- Don’t be discouraged if you don’t land an internship on the first try. Like a full-time job search, it may take many applications and multiple interviews with different organizations before you are hired for an internship. Ask for feedback if you get a “no,” and incorporate it into your strategy for the next interview. And remember to keep an open mind – you may have envisioned a dream company or dream internship position, but that doesn’t necessarily mean other opportunities won’t be just as worthwhile, or even better, in the long run! The important thing is that, by participating in an internship, you are gaining valuable insight in your field of study and will begin to form a professional network that will serve you well in your future job search.
Interested in learning more about internships? Set up an appointment with a CTD career advisor by logging on to Handshake.