In high school, the common question you may have been asked by your teachers, friends, and family was, “What do you want to do after college?” We weren’t even done with high school yet, let alone college, and we were expected to have a step-by-step guide to our future. Some of my classmates were going to take over the family business, others had known since they were eight years old that they wanted to be a veterinarian or a doctor, but a majority of students didn’t even know what they would be having for lunch that day. After graduation, we moved into our freshman dorms and were anxiously anticipating what promised to be “the best years of our life.” College offers different experiences and takeaways for each of us, but the ultimate goal for most is to get a job once we leave campus. While we may not be sure what we want to do when we get to college, a great way to learn what we might be interested in is through a summer internship.

The opportunities are endless with the number of internships available. A great way to narrow down your options is to start with the field you are most interested in. In the agricultural arena, the choices range from marketing, public relations, public policy and law, on-farm experiences, and the list goes on. With that in mind you can begin to search the Internet, as well as using your college’s career office to assist you. Many colleges even have on-campus recruiting now that brings employers to your campus and takes away the stress of having to travel for interviews. It’s best to start the search early so you can apply before all the deadlines pass.

Once you have found specific internship postings, you’ll need to check to see what the qualifications are. These may include major, year in school, GPA, related experience, and the time commitment of the internship. If you meet all the criteria, send your materials to the employer and follow-up with them in a week to ensure that they received your materials. If you don’t meet the requirements in one area, don’t hesitate to submit your materials anyway. The employer may review your application and find you’re better suited for another area of the company or position. Additionally, you may approach companies you are interested in working for that do not currently offer internships and ask to be an unpaid intern.

It may seem like a daunting process for some, but with adequate preparation and a strong resume and cover letter, finding an internship may become a little less stressful. Many career offices offer students services such as resume and cover letter critiques, practice interviews, and the opportunity to discuss your career interests. Visiting your school’s career office not only gives you a leg up on the competition, but their help may prove to be invaluable in the future. Also, networking with alumni allows for you to have a better understanding of certain industries and companies, and they often have great advice that you can take with you into an interview.

Before the actual interview, whether it is over the phone or in-person, the best advice is to practice, practice, and practice. Develop a list of potential questions the interviewer may ask, look over your resume and cover letter again in case the employer asks you about a certain aspect, and research the company to see if they have any recent news that you may be able to ask them about during your interview. When the time finally arrives for the interview, it’s your time to shine and show them why you deserve to be hired.

If you didn’t have an internship this summer, have no fear. You may be able to intern during the fall or spring at a local company! Some companies offer for-credit internships during the academic year, and others even have paid internships for students. Regardless, there are endless possibilities in the world of internships and it’s up to you to take advantage of them. You may discover after your internship ends that it’s a career you’d enjoy or a field that you would like to be involved in. You may realize you’re better suited for another job and sometimes that is even more valuable than having an internship that you loved. Through it all the connections that you make within the organization will prove to be important throughout your career and may lead to other opportunities down the line. Go in with an open mind, be willing to learn, and take advantage of all the advice and wisdom that others have to offer. Good luck and here’s to finding a great internship for next summer!

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Comment by Emily Caldwell on July 9, 2010 at 9:18am
You can learn more about Ashley and her summer internship with the American Farm Bureau Federation at this link:

http://www.progressivedairy.com/index.php?option=com_content&vi...

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