It’s never too early to start. The early bird gets the worm. These are just two of the hundreds of sayings about the benefits of getting a jump-start on things. This couldn’t be more true when it comes to acquiring internships.
With so many graduates entering the job market, anything that sets one candidate apart from another helps. This is why it’s increasingly important to complete internships, and the key is to get a head start. Internships or job-shadowing programs are also great ways to figure out a student’s specific interests.
Ric Smith, director of experiential learning and head of the department of communication and journalism’s internship program at Auburn University, thinks high school is a perfect time for students to start looking for internships. “The more experience they can get, the better,” Smith said.
Kathryn Broussard, a senior at Auburn pursuing dual degrees in Spanish and supply chain management, is working her internship for all it’s worth.
“One thing I’ve found to be important is to show initiative,” she said. “Ask questions when you are confused or just want to learn. Form relationships with your managers and coworkers.”
She also realizes the importance of getting everything she can out of it. “I could sit all day in my cube, do the bare minimum and when the whistle blows, head home,” she said. “But this is a six-month opportunity to be a sponge and soak up as much knowledge and experience as possible.”
Many undergraduate programs require students to complete internships before graduating. For these programs, certain prerequisites must be met, but prerequisites should not stop students from seeking out non-credit internships. It may not count for course credit, but the knowledge and experience gained are invaluable.
Broussard offered these words of wisdom: “Job shadow. Set up a lunch with someone whose career you want to know more about. Do an internship or get a summer job. All of these things will help you see if what you think you want to do really is what you want to do, so start early.”