Making the decision to go to college can be a challenging one for many individuals. People pursue higher education for various reasons, often revolving around job opportunities and career support that can shape their future. It's crucial to keep your goals in mind throughout your college journey and understand why you're there. For me, the primary objective was to ensure job security and I knew getting a good internship experience would be important. Here are four tips that helped me discover internship opportunities.
Engage in the Process
The initial step in landing an internship is to proactively put yourself out there, starting as early as possible. Even if it's just for practice, engaging in this process prepares you for the real deal. Attending career fairs at your school, especially those tailored to your major, is a fantastic idea, as it demonstrates your proactive approach and a clear understanding of your priorities, even as a freshman. Drawing from my own experience as an accounting major, attending career fairs as a freshman allowed me to engage with prominent accounting firms.
During career fairs, presenting yourself professionally is crucial. Dress appropriately, bring resumes to distribute to those you engage with, and inquire about opportunities suitable for your age and experience level. Don't forget to smile, share a laugh, find common ground, and collect business cards. Once it is over, follow up with a polite email to leave a lasting impression for future encounters. Building connections at these events, even if the timing isn't perfect for internships, establishes a foundation for future opportunities and networking in the professional world.
Build a Network
Don’t get discouraged if you don’t find many internship opportunities during your freshman year. Joining an accounting and finance professional fraternity on campus exposed me to more networking opportunities, leading to numerous offers from top firms during my sophomore year. Joining other campus organizations outside your academic interest is another effective way to expand your network.
Build your LinkedIn profile as soon as you start college and then use it to connect with everyone you meet at career fairs, professional organization events, etc. These connections may lead to job recommendations and offer insights into securing internships and jobs. I highly recommend connecting with as many people as possible on such platforms, expanding your network beyond the confines of your campus. This played a crucial role for me in securing a prestigious internship with the world's largest Big 4 accounting firm for the summer after my sophomore year. That was followed by a return offer, which set the stage for a seamless transition to a full-time job upon graduation!
Securing that initial opportunity is undeniably challenging, but once you do, you're on the path to a potentially stable career. Even if you discover during an internship that it's not your ideal fit, the experience on your resume will undoubtedly set you apart in future job searches.
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