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How do I get an internship if I have an employment gap?

April 27, 2011

fastpitch4 How do I get an internship if I have an employment gap?
Alex Mug How do I get an internship if I have an employment gap?
By Alex Braun

We know not everyone who’s applying for internships is filling time between semesters of college. Many who have already graduated have been looking for work experience for a while now.

Maybe you passed up on a few internship opportunities because you were holding out for a full-time job. Maybe life intervened, and you had obligations that prevented you from working. Whatever the case may be, re-entering the internship market can be a challenge — but it can be done. Here are some tips for making it happen.

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ThisIsIndexed.com pokes fun at bloggers with this chart, but blogs can get you hired.

1. Start an employment blog. I actually got hired for this job largely on the merit of a blog I started in 2008 with a few of my friends. “Well, yeah,” you’ll say, “But you’re a blog editor.” That’s true now, but I was hired primarily as a copywriter.

You don’t even need to be seeking a writing-related job for a blog to help your appeal. You just need to thoughtfully analyze some topics that are relevant to the field. A lot of resume reviewers get excited to read more conversational material after poring over the same stilted resume bullets over and over.

Blogs have a way of communicating personality, and personalities get remembered. You also can bank on them coming up during the interview, which gives you more control over the conversation (assuming you haven’t typed anything incriminating).

2. Follow professional publications, blogs or news aggregators. If you can speak knowledgeably about current trends or issues in your field, you can quell some of the anxiety an employer might have about hiring someone who’s been out of the classroom and “out of the game,” so to speak. Get familiar with RSS feed readers (your email host should have this function), so you can have tons of relevant news delivered to you without having to go on tedious searches. (We have an RSS feed too, by the way. They’re not as scary as they sound.)

3. Attempt to freelance, or create your own project. Talk to friends and family to find out if anyone’s small business could use your talents for a project or two — and offer to do it for free if they’ll give you their feedback. It’s hard to turn down no-strings-attached labor. If they like what you’ve done, there’s a decent chance they’ll end up compensating you in some way, whether that’s with a check or with a valuable reference.

If you can’t get anyone to look at your work, you should still hang on to it. Having some evidence that you’re practicing relevant skills is still valuable in and of itself.

These are starting points, but the bottom line with internship hunting is the same as it is for a professional athletes: When the offseason comes, stay active.

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