The uncertain economy has made many more companies use internships as a cost-effective way to recruit talent. By positioning interns as trial employees, businesses get a serious look at the candidate's initiative, competence, and their fit within the existing organization.
Just be prepared for lots of competition. With a bevy of students now competing with a substantial pool of more experienced workers transitioning into new fields, internships are harder than ever to land. It also means that more applicants are looking beyond simply gaining experience working in an office -- they want the internship to lead to a real job in their industry of choice. Here are five internships that have led to hire with some tips from recruiters on how to land a job offer:
1. Web Start-Up
Boris Revsin started CampusLIVE, an online portal for students to balance academics and their social life, on a shoestring while he was still in school. Though he's gotten funding from investors, Revsin says the site's growing so fast that he relies on interns to do everything from lead focus group studies, to head up viral marketing campaigns and handle business development. The latter involves doing outreach to potential customers, preparing them for contact with a full-time ad executive. Says Revsin, "Our program is able to train students in marketing and analytics, but it cannot manufacture true motivation. Wanting to be here is, and has always been, the key to success for our interns."
Who doesn't fantasize about rubbing elbows with the stars – and making the big bucks? Fortunately, career coach David Couper says a great way into the entertainment industry can be through interning at a talent agency or production company. Handling administrative tasks, reading and analyzing scripts and ideas, and having a basic understanding film or TV production can get your foot in the door -- just be prepared to work long hours. "If you can offer additional skills such as being able to use social networking, editing video, or basic IT support, you can help better your chances at getting an offer at some agencies hit hard by the recession that still need to cover gaps in their organization," Couper adds.
If you are interested in a job in online marketing, Cari Sommer, one of the founders of Urban Interns,says try to get into a social media position. "Businesses today are consumed by all the DIY marketing tools at their disposal, from Facebook fan pages and ads to maintaining their brand online. We've seen many interns hired to help with these functions become so necessary, the position turns into full-time work." Sommer recommends interns show their willingness to learn, think one step ahead, and staying up-to-date on industry news in order to make themselves indispensible.
Nathan Hand built his professional nonprofit career on the experience he got through 10 internships. A vice president of development for Indy School on Wheels, Hand notes, "The nonprofit world is especially open to internships and those positions usually gain strong experiences because of how cash-strapped those organizations can be." Hand advises potential nonprofiteers to find organizations with strong leadership and try to report to directly to them. "That'll set you up to make a connection for future job openings, and you'll be mentored well." Also, he recommends lining up your internship with the nonprofit's crucial functions, such as fundraising. "You want to be where the action, energy and excitement is, as well as in a position to make an impact to organization's success."
5. Interactive Media
Web skills are such an integral part of any organization's operations, David Clarke, a co-founder of BGT Partners believes an internship in an interactive agency would provide someone with incredible exposure to the digital world and the experience could be valuable for any company. Along with keeping an eye on aspects of the company's operations, Clarke advises interns to keep their digital portfolio updated to showcase only the best work. "Once you get the position, treat the internship like a full-time position and get to know as many co-workers as possible. This kind of feedback gets back to the HR team and/or hiring managers."
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