By Britany Tufnell – Career Counselor Intern, SJSU Career Center
Happy New Year Spartans! As you start to plan for the year ahead and begin the spring semester, it’s also time to starting thinking about your career goals for 2015. Whether you are a graduating senior returning for the home stretch or a “frosh-faced” student chipping away at requirements, this semester offers much potential for success!
Take this time to reflect a bit and envision some of your career goals. What steps can you take this year to bring you closer to the career of your dreams? How can you better yourself professionally and build your brand? I offer you a catalyst for becoming your future self: INTERNSHIPS. Whether you have already started preparing to apply or have never considered an internship-you are in luck! This is internship season and the Career Center is here to help you reach your goals.
I cannot express enough how beneficial internship experiences can be on your professional journey. I did not become aware of the benefits of an internship until my second year of graduate school. The professional experience and personal growth gained are priceless. I wish there had been more emphasis on internships in my undergraduate program; it would have made a huge impact on many of my career choices. To spare you the regret of not starting internships earlier in my career, I’ll pass on my top reasons to get an internship, so that you can seize these opportunities NOW!
- Try Before You Buy
Internships are the best way to get your feet wet in an industry that you are interested in. They offer you the opportunity to discover your niche and what a company’s culture is like. Interning is a great way to build on your strengths, discover your weaknesses, and find out if this occupation is the right fit for you. You may discover it is everything you thought it would be and more or that you may actually want to take a different path in life. Whatever you decide, you will come out on the other side wiser and prepared to make an educated decision about your future.
- Expand Your Network
Networking is the key to success. This has been one of the most used skills I have picked up from my internship and graduate program. You will be amazed at how connected your co-workers, professors, and fellow classmates are in the realm of your desired career field. Social media has made it convenient and easy to form and keep up with those relationships. If you do not have a LinkedIn yet, create one today. If you have an account keep it updated, active, and professional. LinkedIn is the best way to make and find connections, as well as research your industry, and find internship or job opportunities. A wise professor once told me, “treat every day at your internship like a job interview,” so when that job opportunity arises in the future, your name will come to mind.
- Become a Professional
Hands down, one of the greatest benefits from my internship has been increased professionalism. From writing emails, to participating in staff meetings, to one-on-one sessions with clients, I have learned to examine and perfect how to communicate as a professional. As an intern you are a member of the team with the advantage of being the one there to learn, observe, and practice. Take every shift seriously and put forward your best self. Set up informational interviews with co-workers and practice interviewing and conversational skills while gaining valuable insight into the field. Be sure to send follow up thank you notes. Jump on opportunities that arise such as assisting with projects and events or interviewing for open positions. Everything will be a learning opportunity; even if you stumble you will have that experience to grow from for the future.
- Gain a Competitive-Edge
We all face that Catch-22 when it comes to landing a job; you cannot get the job without experience, but you cannot gain experience without the job! Taking on an internship in your field will teach you valuable transferable skills that can boost your resume and give you the competitive-edge needed to land the job. Building your brand starts with self-awareness of your skills. The most beneficial part of my graduate program has been my internship with the Career Center. The hands-on experience has prepared me more than all of my classes ever could because I am able to apply my skills and knowledge in real situations.
Feeling inspired to check out internships in your field of interest? Here are some steps to launch a successful internship journey!
- FIND THE RIGHT OPPORTUNITY!
Sign up for SpartaJobs Create your SpartaJobs profile today and gain access to more than 2,000 internship and job postings (across all majors) only open to SJSU Students & Alumni.
- LAND THE INTERNSHIP!
Career Center’s Internship Resources Check out our awesome online resources to help you get started on your internship journey from the comfort of your home. Learn how to write a successful resume, prep for the interview and select the right position for you.
- SUCCEED AT YOUR INTERNSHIP!
Gain all the tips and insights you need to make the most of your internship through our Internship Success Stories (via this blog and Facebook Fan page) as well as by attending Internship Awareness Day February 11, 2015 from 12:00pm – 2:00pm at Student Union Ballroom B. Don’t have time to attend? Then, watch our Top 10 Tips for Internship Success Workshop.
Britany Tufnell is career counselor intern at the Career Center and graduate student in the Education Counseling Program here at SJSU. She has a background in Psychology and Child and Adolescent Development where she spent many years as a youth counselor, teacher, and caregiver. Britany currently enjoys working with adults in higher education and is passionate about helping others reach their goals that bring them closer to creating a meaningful life.