Saturday, November 11, 2006

Internships Can Shine In Tight Job Market

Start Early ... Hone Your Search ... Keep Perspective

Great advice from Carolyn Bigda (Chicago Tribune) regarding internships.

Here's what Carolyn has to say about the advantage of internships in a tight job market:

Just as the weather starts getting cooler, it's time to start thinking about summer.

Employers are showing up at college campuses as early as fall, recruiting not just for full-time entry-level positions but coveted summer internships. And while an internship always enhances any resume, it has also become a serious gateway to receive a job offer post graduation.

"Many employers are looking to internship programs as a feeder to their hiring," said Marcia Harris, director of career services at the University of North Carolina. "So if they find someone who's sharp, that slot no longer exists when graduates go to search for jobs."

One reason that employers now are concentrating on internships is a so-called "war for talent."

In the next few years, baby boomers, born from 1946 to 1964, will begin to retire en masse, opening a spate of new positions for today's graduates. The need for replacements will be especially acute in certain industries such as energy, education, health care and government, which can't outsource their labor.

And the pressure is on since the number of students studying computer science, accounting and engineering -- some of the most sought-after skills today -- has dwindled.

But university career advisers and employers alike say that regardless of the labor market, finding the right internship still requires effort. Here's what to do:

Start early

While the majority of employers don't start filling internships until January, companies in competitive industries, such as financial services, arrive on campus as early as September or October.

As a result, if you haven't submitted your resume to your university career center, do so now.

Hone your search

The easiest way to find an internship is to go directly to the company's Web site.

If you don't have a specific list of companies, head to your school's career and internship fairs. Also, talk with professors, alumni and upperclassmen for their input.

Keep perspective

If after doing your homework, you don't like your internship, don't panic. Though it's nice to walk away with a job, the real point is to gain experience, as well as explore a variety of work environments.

Dennis Smith

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