For young would-be professionals, the most effective bridge between their college training and a career is an internship that gives a glimpse of what their chosen field is really like. Looking for the right internship can be a daunting task – but it’s also an exciting opportunity to gain real-world experience.
When I first started looking for internships as both an undergraduate and graduate student, I was drawn to Sachs Media Group for a number of reasons. Now as an internship coordinator with the firm, I’ve interviewed scores of students looking for a variety of experiences from an internship. Here are some suggestions that can help you find an ideal internship with a business or company that may be the best fit for you.
1. A welcoming company culture
The business’ culture will heavily influence your internship experience. Whether it’s prioritizing professionalism in the workplace or encouraging work-life balance, it is important to understand what a company may expect from you.
Before applying with a company, check out its website to see if it lists its values, mission, or vision. Our values are zeal, teamwork, creativity, excellence, and community, and it really says a lot about the work we do and how we do it. We bring our interns fully into the mix from Day 1, and we prioritize learning about their skills and passions so we can ensure that they get the best experience possible.
2. Opportunities to develop your skills
Students need the opportunity to develop their communications skills, no matter which department or position they are hired for. Looking for the opportunity to grow and work on these skills should always be a priority. Review the internship position description to see how you can work on tasks that will allow you to better develop these skills.
Our company not only allows for this opportunity, but we encourage all interns to branch out. During every interview, we ask our intern candidates if there is a certain skill they’re looking to improve on, and we make it a priority to give them tasks that are related to this skill. But our interns often work with staff from outside their designated department, and that’s their chance to broaden their knowledge and skills. You should look for a company that will allow you this opportunity.
3. Access to professional leadership
At the intern stage of your career, few things are more important than finding mentors who can show you the path to success. As you look for an internship, seek out businesses that have experienced professionals who spend their days doing what you hope to do in your career.
It’s important to have access to these individuals as you progress through your internship, as well as when you’re looking for a full-time position. At Sachs Media Group, there’s no invisible wall between senior leaders and interns – we prioritize being accessible to our interns, helping them understand how we work and giving them advice and guidance based on our diverse experiences in the communications field. Our goal, always, is to help our interns learn, grow, and improve.
4. Opportunities to work on projects that make a difference
Students always say they’re looking for an experience that’s more than “making copies and getting people coffee.” While this should be a requirement for all internships, I hope you are searching for an opportunity that offers more challenges and a better opportunity to grow. This includes the chance to work on projects that will make a difference. Check out the company’s previous work and see if it’s involved in projects you’re interested in and want to be a part of.
Interns at Sachs Media Group are routinely given the opportunity to work on teams handling major projects for all clients. Our firm thrives on helping clients with high-stakes challenges, and we encourage our interns to work on these accounts. Whether it’s passing innovative ridesharing legislation or preserving access to affordable health care, our projects impact people’s lives. We’re always looking for interns who are ready to help tackle these projects head-on.
5. Respect for the fact that you’re a student
It’s important to get experience outside the classroom while you’re a student. However, it’s just as important that the business for whom you intern recognizes that your academics must be your top priority. Excelling in your class work is critical, and it should not suffer just because you accepted an internship. Check with your interviewer to make sure the company is flexible with your schedule and respects your other responsibilities.
Employers hire interns who can successfully manage their course load and outside activities along with the tasks they’re assigned by the business. But there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to get the most out of both experiences. At our firm, we completely understand that interns have other responsibilities, including school, so we encourage them to let us know if they need more time to focus on their studies.