Focus on the Future

I’ve been talking with a lot of students lately about their summer internship searches. I commonly ask students what they want to do career-wise when they’re done with college. The responses are often telling. “Well, I’m a (fill in the blank) major.” Ok, so what? “I have no idea.” Not good. This lack of focus is at least one reason why many students have difficulty finding an internship.

We have all heard time and again that internships are important. Now with the economy in rough shape, internships are crucial. With over a million students graduating college and with fewer entry-level jobs available, competition will be fierce. Check out this internship search interview with a career coach from the BusinessWeek.com video library.

What makes an internship experience attractive to employers, and therefore crucial for employment success, is the internship’s relevance to the job you’re seeking. If you’ve done work in an internship similar to that of the permanent job you’ve applied for, it can covey to the hiring employer that you would know how to do that job.

Bring focus to your career goal before you begin searching for opportunities. Ideally, you want some idea of where you’re headed in order to identify an internship that can provide you with the relevant experience. If you’re using a resource such as ‘HawkQuest, you can sift through the listings much more efficiently once you know what you’re lookig for. If you’re researching individual companies/organizations, you can narrow down that list based on whether or not the organization would/could offer the opportunity you want. Searching for an internship without any clarity as to what you’re looking for? That is one search I’d be scared to conduct.

Career goals may change, possibly as a result of an internship. But for purposes of conducting a successful internship search, focus and clarity are key.

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