Best Foot Forward: A College Students Guide to Starting Right: Step Three: Spin!

So you have realized the need for an internship, and taken the time to research it. Now, can you spin it? That is, do you know how to take what skills you have and present them in a convincing and totally irresistible fashion? Most students actually have things that they could tack on their resumes they are not even aware of.

Once you have researched your internship and decided on an industry and some prospective companies, it’s time to tailor yourself to what they want. The most common mistake that potential interns make is to undercut their chances by not showcasing any and all of their skills or pertinent experiences. Something else to consider: You do not have to do an internship that directly correlates to your major! For instance, my major is political science, and I am doing and internship in media relations and advertising. I decided this would be my time to branch out and get experience in another field I was curious about. This would be a time when I would try to narrow down some of my interests and see what I liked and what I was and was not good at. If you cannot find an internship that directly correlates to your major, do not despair! Most colleges offer courses in which you can get credit for many different types of internships or field experience, even ones unrelated to your major. Furthermore doing an internship is the perfect opportunity to explore all the various interests you might have. Something else to think about, how many individuals do you know in certain professions they love with a major that has nothing to do with it…think about it, how did they get there? They probably did an internship! If you present yourself correctly, and can make any aspect of your skill set, experience or coursework relate, you are in good shape.

You were part of a softball league, a sorority, or organized a benefit for your school.  Can you pull away any skills or responsibilities that you held that could be showcased in a resume? Recognize that at the intern level, most companies desire to teach you new skills. While this is not always the case, if you can in your cover letter or interview, emphasize the basic skills you possess, how they could pertain to the tasks you would be required to perform, and how ultimately your goal is to gain knowledge. So if you had basic skills like writing, but were unfamiliar with certain programs, like InDesign which is used in print advertising, do your research on it and express your desire to be taught. Also the internet is an endless resource. Find a free online tutorial and watch it!

You can make yourself marketable for any job with in reason. Of course, if you want to be an astronaut, but you are an English major, most likely you are out of luck. With the right “spin,” you can be well on your way to your first internship. The next question: are you aggressive enough to be intentional about securing that position?

Blogger: Amanda Martin

Media Relations and Advertising Intern

Best Foot Forward: A College Student’s Guide to Starting Right: Step One: Realization

 

Every college student knows in this economy you have to have an extra edge to get hired. With the unemployment rate rising, and the large number of graduates with their degrees in hand ending up back at home with their parents or working at the local fast food joint, this fact is all too apparent. The question of exactly how to distinguish yourself in a market as dead as our current one sometimes stumps the best of us.

 When shuffling through the list of ways to pump up a resume, we stumble upon the need for leadership roles, volunteer positions, awards, high GPA’s, membership in Greek life, and a whole host of other activities besides our academic work. Yet when looking for a job, the most common question an employer will ask is, “What set of skills do you bring to the table or do you have any other professional job experience?” As a college student myself, I, too, find myself asking, with what time do employers expect students, with all their studies, to find part-time jobs and other extracurricular activities to learn a set of skills and to actually have time or the opportunity to acquire some professional experience? These questions become frustrating, overwhelming, and often get overlooked as students simply push towards their graduation date, thinking a degree in hand will be enough.

Yet as many of us have discovered, possessing a degree is no longer a guarantee to get into the professional world. As a matter of fact, if that is your only selling point, you may only get as far as being a barista at your corner coffee shop. Not to minimize such jobs, but those individuals who are looking to succeed in their field of choice will attest that this extra edge can be gained in only one place and setting. The answer: to be an intern at a company that will let you get hands-on and up close and personal experience in the field you seek a professional career in. Once students come to this realization, they have taken the first step towards acquiring an internship that will offer them the experience they need. In an economy where most graduates are unemployed, this extra edge will give you much better odds at getting that job that so many will be vying for.

Blogger: Amanda Martin

Comtech Media Relations and Advertising Intern