It may be the most dull and demeaning chapter in your college or university experience: The grind of interning, showing up as free labour, relearning how to operate a copier or order doughnuts for a meeting.
Neglected interns should be forgiven for wondering if internships are just meaningless hype to splay across a still-sparse résumé. Yet the practice persists.
In fact, they’re very necessary. “When you graduate ... now, if you don’t have at least two internships on your résumé, you’re not hirable,” warns The Internship Bible author Samer Hamadeh.
The challenge, he offers, is to glean more from your time than a sentence to paste into your cover letter.
“Your internship is what you make it,” agrees careerbuilder.com coach Allison Nawoj.
Her latest study shows that America’s jobless elders may have reached the same conclusion. This fall, she says, undergraduates will compete with the underemployed for nearly a quarter of all open internships.
“Not only has the recession reshaped internships so that they’re more applicable to people later in their careers, but for younger workers, internships can mean more than filing papers,” she notes. “Companies have scaled back and are relying on interns to fill the gaps.”
Consider shadowing the person whose job you’d aim to have.
“See what their jobs entail,” Nawoj suggests. “Say, ‘Hey, I see you do X, Y, Z. Can I help out with that.’"