Internships after graduation: The road to employment

February 2, 2010 at 7:15 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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Posted by Shantae

When I think about where I’ll be six months from now, I imagine myself in client meetings, pitching the media and networking with both seasoned and young public relations professionals. 

The PR program at Kent State continues to challenge me – pushing me to be better than I was last semester and last year.  As part of our curriculum, we’re required to complete a 300-hour internship at an approved company or organization.  It’s a long road, but in the end we hope to emerge as prepared, well-rounded professionals.  It’s a natural progression. 

However, tough economic times are making it increasingly more difficult for college grads to land an entry-level position.  I spoke with two PR Kent graduates who turned their internships into full-time positions.

Getting your foot in the door

Katelyn Luysterborg, a PR Kent graduate, turned her internship into a job at Cleveland advertising and PR firm, Marcus Thomas LLC.  She is an Assistant Account Executive.

Me:  What were your hopes immediately following graduation?

Katelyn:  Like all new grads, I wanted a full-time job. I worked hard during college and felt that I deserved the job of my dreams. But that didn’t come right away. I finished my internship for credit during the summer and stayed on for several months after until I was offered a full-time position.

Me:  How did you turn your internship into a career?

Katelyn:  Honestly, I think I proved to be an asset to company. I started out doing intern work and slowly earned more responsibilities. It didn’t come right away, but I never felt like I was doing something beneath me. Even the little, menial projects are important to making sure things run smoothly. I treated my internship like an extended job interview, which is what internships are.

The biggest thing is to show your boss that you’re willing to do anything to get the job done. For instance, staying late to finish a project or taking the extra step to make sure everything is perfect. Things like that don’t go unnoticed, even if someone doesn’t say something right away.

Me:  What advice do you have to offer soon-to-be grads who want a job, not an internship after graduation?

Katelyn:  My advice would be to not to discount internships. While you should absolutely apply for every entry-level position out there, apply for the internships as well. You never know what could happen, and it’s still a learning experience. Future employers want to see that you’re still active and willing to do what it takes, even if you don’t have your dream job.

Kendra Wheeler, another PR Kent grad, officially graduated in December 2009.  She completed her internship for credit at Liggett Stashower, an advertising and public relations agency in Cleveland, and was hired on as a Brand Specialist.

Me:  What is the greatest benefit(s) of interning after graduation?

Kendra:  I can think of a few benefits to interning after graduation:

1. It gives you a chance to enhance your skill set and resume. Interning after graduation will give you the opportunity to put ALL your skills from college to use. By this time, At this point, you have learned all there is to learn from the classroom and you have a better chance of standing out than another intern who may be in their junior or senior year of coursework.

2. It puts you in a better position to turn the internship into full-time work. Your employer knows that you are a recent graduate and looking for employment and if a position opens up, you will be a great candidate for employment (if you were an awesome intern). 

3. Taking an internship after graduation, allows you to explore different industries. Internships are a test-drive for your career path. You can try out a variety of professional industries to see if it is a good fit for you. Interning doesn’t carry the heavy commitment that employment does. Therefore, you can have internship after internship. This won’t be the case, once you start your career.

Me:  How did you turn your internship into a full-time position?

Kendra:  I turned my internship into a career by being the best worker I knew how to be. I took each task, no matter how tedious, and completed it fast and efficient. I was only an intern, but I wanted the staff at the agency to trust in me, my work and my abilities.

I was constantly trying to improve, so I would ask for feedback on my work. When someone asked me to complete a task, I wouldn’t just turn it in when I was finished. I would ask for feedback on the assignment. If there was something I could do better, I did it.

And of course, I did the things that every intern should do. I was on time for work, I stayed late to finish time-sensitive projects. Finally, I kept the agency staff updated on the progress of my various projects. 

I worked hard to be a “super intern” and when a position was open at the agency, I confidently went after it.

Me:  What advice do you have to offer soon-to-be grads who want a job, not an internship after graduation?

Kendra:  Soon-to-be graduates should take their internships seriously. You want your past employers to consider you for full-time employment. They should also remember to network. They should tell others that they are in the market for full-time employment.

Finally, soon-to-be grads should practice good interviewing skills and have their resumes professionally critiqued.

Make it work

Katelyn and Kendra didn’t aspire to be interns after working hard in school for four years, but they found the best in the situation and made their internship experiences work for them.  According to a recent post on Student Branding Blog:

“An internship, volunteer work, or part-time employment at a company of interest is a great way to get your foot in the door. Don’t settle for something that is going to make you miserable. Instead, think about the little steps you can take to push yourself in the right career direction.”

Recent graduates:  If you found yourself as an intern after graduation, how did you transition to a full-time position?  How did you stand out as intern?



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