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Finding an Internship: 3 Important Things to Keep in Mind

Aug 6, 2013 • Mark Burns • Work & Internships
An internship in your field can help you get hands-on experience.

An internship in your field can help you get hands-on experience.

As you have probably heard from multiple people, finding an internship is an essential element of the college experience. Unlike past jobs you may have had, an internship should be relevant to the career that you wish to pursue in the future. I found that with the correct preparation, you should be able to find an internship that complements your academic work helps you stand out to future employers.

Seeking an Appropriate Internship

There are many assets at your disposal while searching for an internship: newspapers, online job sites, and school bulletin postings, to name a few. Larger companies and hospitals (if you’re a med student like me) will offer positions that you will definitely have to apply for, but you should also look into smaller businesses or practices because they may also have opportunities for students.

When I was searching for internships in college, I found that my school offered an online site that allowed students to find potential positions in the areas surrounding the campus, and even allowed students to get in contact with alumni who were offering internships to current students. I highly recommend that you find out if your school offers a similar program and that you take advantage of it, if it’s available.

Professors and Internships

Assuming that you have established strong relationships with a few of your professors, it never hurts to ask them if they know of any available positions that are relevant to your field of interest. Being so well connected, your professors may be able to secure you an internship either on campus or in the surrounding area.

During my freshman year, I asked my biology professor if she knew of any medically related volunteer work that I could do occasionally throughout the school year. Luckily enough, she was able to refer me to the Human Resources department at the hospital down the road from my campus, where I ended up volunteering for two years.

Paid vs. Unpaid Internships

While working for money is always a good thing, you will find many research positions that only offer school credit or no compensation at all. Instead of simply disregarding these opportunities, try to consider the long-term benefits of working these types of jobs.

One summer, I held an unpaid research position at a hospital in Boston that I found through my physiology professor. For three months, I did post-op research for a vascular surgeon and learned all about human vasculature in the process.

This unpaid job helped me create a network of doctors and nurses and allowed me to gain crucial experience in the medical field. There is no need to simply shrug off a job opportunity if it doesn’t pay. If you choose to take an unpaid position, you can find a side job to make money here and there. You may even be able to get college credit for the work you do for free.

Finding an internship can be challenging, but with the by asking the right questions, you should be able to find an internship relevant to your studies. The internships you have will provide useful insight into the type of work that you may be doing in the future.

Photo Source: Flickr

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