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Leveraging Internships

July 20, 2010

One of the great benefits of an American University education actually takes place outside of the classroom. AU’s location in the nation’s capital of Washington, DC provides students with a multitude of internship opportunities. Through internships in the government, nonprofit and private sectors, students have the opportunity to gain valuable work experience that supplements what they are learning in the classroom and provides them with some of skills needed to begin a career in their field of interest.

Often students are able to effectively leverage their internship in order to gain their next internship, or perhaps a job. Here are some tips on how to make your internship move you towards your next step in the career development process:

When finished with a project, ask for more: This is an excellent way to prove your worth. Employers like interns who go the extra mile in helping to get the work of the office done. By working hard and contributing one’s skills to that office, an intern will become more likely to receive a strong recommendation for his or her next position. In some select instances, if a full-time position with the organization is open upon an intern’s graduation, this could lead to the intern being hired for that position.

Keep in touch with past internship employers: There is often a tendency for one to move on after an internship is completed and not look back. Big mistake. It is always good to maintain contact periodically with past internship supervisors, especially if you have left that position on very good terms. Former supervisors and co-workers can serve as a very valuable resource in helping you network for future job and internship searches

Conduct informational interviews: Informational interviewing is one of the most important forms of networking. It entails talking to people employed in jobs or fields that interest you. Identify people who work at your internship site who would fit these criteria. These individuals would be able to provide you with valuable advice about their career path, skills needed, and the employment outlook for the field. They may also be able to provide you with the names and contact information of other individuals who could provide you with information about potential careers.

Utilizing these strategies, in addition to meeting periodically with your Career Center advisor, will start you on your path to a successful and very satisfying career.

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