How college students make internships payoff

By Rhonda Campbell

Thousands of college students are ending their summer internships. If these college students were fortunate, their internships allowed them to do more than file, scan and copy stacks of documents, completing projects that regular employees are willing to do near anything to avoid.

Trademarks of good college internships

A good business internship introduces college students to the real work world. Instead of copying, scanning and filing all day, interns:

• Sit in on webinars and conference calls. Progressive employers may also encourage interns to attend team and divisional in-person meetings and prompt interns to contribute to the meetings, offering suggestions and personal insights.
• Provide interns with projects that they can actually lead, giving interns the chance to work independently as well as build their leadership skills
• Assign interns one or more group projects to complete before the end of summer
• Develop schedules that let interns get a deeper view of the business by participating in a job rotation program
• Make is possible for college students to earn college credits based on work they complete during internships

It goes without saying that the best business internships pay college students. Some companies that operate college internships pay students $25 an hour, more than three times the federal minimum wage. These employers pay competitive wages because they know their internships are “meaty”, offering students valuable insights into today’s business environment.

Those are a few hallmarks of rewarding college internship programs. But, what happens after students return to college? How do they make their internships continue to pay off after they are back in the classroom?

Students drive good internships

What follows are steps that college students could take to keep summer internships they participated in paying off for months. Um, hmm. . . Networking plays a pivotal role in several of the steps.

• Contact business managers and ask them to connect via LinkedIn (Some business managers post job updates, training seminars, networking events, etc. that their firms are hosting that college students could take advantage of, even after their internship has ended).
• Add their summer work experience to their resume, digital portfolio and social media profiles.
• Send managers they completed internships with holiday greetings. By sending employers a Christmas, Thanksgiving or New Years greeting, students can keep in touch with their potential future employers three times a year.
• Study markets and industries employers they intern with operate in. Doing this teaches college students about terminology, trends and analytical data that’s impacting these markets and industries. Simply being able to speak a potential employers “language” (i.e. terminology) can set future college graduates apart.
• Subscribe to news feeds and alerts that deliver quality information (i.e. stats, facts, business acquisitions, mergers) right to their mobile phones or email. A lot is going to change in the business world over the next two years. It pays to keep pace with the impending changes.

College students should definitely take the time to send a “thank you” card or note (handwritten notes can leave a lasting impression) to managers and supervisors they worked with during their business internship. When they start their search for a full-time job, it also pays to contact these managers and supervisors. Even if these employers don’t hire the students, they may offer suggestions or agree to give a strong recommendation to students as they apply for jobs with other employers.

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