Recently, an account executive at the PR agency I’m interning for told me about a girl who walked in the door and asked if there were any jobs available. When the account executive informed her that there weren’t any openings, but that she could apply for an internship position, she said she wasn’t interested in an internship. She wanted a job.
Now personally, I don’t approach my job search with such chutzpah (Yiddish for ballsy), but what this girl might not have realized when she dismissed my coworker’s suggestion is that internships are now the entry-level job. It’s the opportunity for an employer to see what a person brings to the table before talking salary and benefits.
It may seem unfair to some – especially those who entered college before the economy turned – but fairness aside, it’s the way it is now. For one thing, employers don’t have time to train someone who comes in for an entry-level job. The time loss is too valuable to spare. And with budgets being so tight, most employers don’t have the leeway to hire someone without a test run.
Also, if there are positions available, an employer wants to make sure they get the best candidate possible for the job. The only way to give yourself a fighting chance at being the best is by doing internships.
Building your resume strategically also helps. Personally, I try to search for my dream job description and read a bunch of them. I see the list of qualifications that they’re looking for and,if I lack those skills,try to find an internship where I’ll be able learn them.
Not only are internships the new entry-level job, but it also takes internships to get internships. It’s a perpetual system that rewards those who continue to work at it.
Here’s the silver lining: If you’re an intern at the right place and at the right time, you have a good chance of transitioning into that entry-level job. By that point, you’re already trained, they’ve decided you’re a good cultural fit and you’re familiar with clients and services.
Having internship experience shows dedication that speaks volumes about the type of person you are – and the type of employee you’ll become.