As early as sophomore year in college, students are expected to choose a college major, but without workplace exposure, how is a student really able to make that determination?
Too many college students switch their majors, mainly because they haven’t gained the career exposure necessary to make a career decision. Participating in a summer internship is one of the best ways for a high school or college student to “try on a career,” gain work experience in the field of their choice and walk away with a solid letter of recommendation.
An internship can either confirm a career interest or lead the student in a new direction, saving valuable time and money. Often an internship is the first step in building a resume, offers the opportunity for networking, and provides the student with confidence and life-skills for the future.
Identify an initial career interest, then gain career exposure through an internship related to that interest.
1. Think about a subject in school that interests you.
Perhaps you have several interests that could be combined in an internship. If you like to write and you also enjoy music, the communications department of a symphony orchestra would be one place to begin. If you are interested in the environment but also business, you might think about a green technology start-up.
2. Do you spend time on Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter?
These days students are versed in social networking and employers simply don’t have time to dedicate to these important tasks. If you a decent writer you could even work on a company’s blog.
3. Do you have a particular talent?
An internship would provide an opportunity for you to understand how that talent could be applied to the workplace. For example, artistic ability is sorely needed for every organization in terms of web design, marketing materials and photography. If you enjoy acting, interning behind the scenes for a theater company would be great exposure.
4. Computer skills are sought out by every business.
If you are familiar with Power Point, Excel or basic programming, your skills would be highly valued in the workplace.
5. Has a travel experience inspired you?
Perhaps you participated in a travel program or school field trip that inspired you. Community Service work can be parlayed into an internship. For example, previous experience with Habitat for Humanity abroad could be applied to organizations in your own city. A field trip to Washington, DC could be inspiration for a government internship in your own city or state.
Whatever your initial thoughts are related to a potential career, early and successive internships will help you decide on what career is best for you.