Finding a job in this tough economy is no easy feat, especially for college students and recent graduates. They often spend weeks searching for online job opportunities, writing cover letters and sending resumes. But what they really need to do is get an internship.
Nowadays, internships have become the new interview in the job search process for students and employers alike. Approximately 54% of recent graduates are unemployed or underemployed, so the best chance you have as a student is to do an internship. A lot of surveys show us that you have a 7 in 10 chance of being hired by the company you interned with.
Not only can job-seeking students and college graduates land full-time jobs through internships but they also get a chance to test-drive a career before committing. On top of this, employers get the opportunity to find the talent they need to help grow their business without just relying on a short interview. For that reason, entry level employees are the future of a company and so in many ways the most important recruiting decisions an employer can make.
Another remarkable thing is that employers nowadays hire virtual interns, and the most important factor of this is that students are open to the idea of completing a virtual internship. For those who do not know, a virtual internship is a work experience program where the intern gains experience while working in a distant professional environment and is not physically present at the job location. In this way virtual interns can communicate with their employer through Skype, SMS etc. One of the key reasons that we have seen large growth in virtual internships is the flexibility they give to students, particularly during school time. Most employers believe interview performance and relevant work experience are the most important factors in their decision to hire, more significant than strong academic performance because they want to make sure that the student will be a good fit for the job. Moreover, employers will look at what the student has been learning at school, relevant projects, course work and extracurricular activities. In a highly competitive job employers want to see that a candidate has the hunger to be successful more than purely in an academic setting.
Below I present to you a diagram that I found while surfing the internet and that I thought would be very useful. The question is, can internships lead to jobs? This is a survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. From the results we can see that 63.1 percent of students that had a paid internship had received at least one job offer, but in contrast only 37 percent of former unpaid interns could say the same, according to the data. The main reason paid interns tend to get better offers is that they spend more time getting hands-on experience, as opposed to handling administrative tasks.
The results were even worse when it came to salary. Among students who found jobs, former unpaid interns were actually offered less money than those with no internship experience.
As regards my opinion, I need to be critical and have a sceptical attitude about these results: Whilst it doesn’t surprise me that paid interns are more likely to get a good job, I do think unpaid interns have a good shot at using their experience and contacts to “land” a job.
One last thing to cheer you up: if you missed the internship boat this year, don’t panic: Next year should be even better.