I remember finishing up an internship at a magazine at the end of my junior year of college. I got home and talked to my parents on the phone about my last day when they asked, “So, do you think you’ll get a job there?” I remember telling them, “Probably not” to their shock and surprise. Although I had worked my butt off all semester, spent hours each week commuting back and forth to the office, and got a glowing review from my internship advisor, I was well aware that I was just another intern who would be forgotten by the time I graduated a year later. In fact, I did interview for a job at that magazine about a year after I graduated, and I didn’t get it.
Times have changed. Ask any college graduate and they’ll tell you that they know plenty of classmates who are having trouble finding a job no matter how full of experience their résumés are. Having an internship that leads straight to a job offer at that company is no longer standard protocol. The National Association of Colleges and Employers asked graduating seniors if they’ve received a job offer and if they’ve ever had either a paid or unpaid internship. They found that 63.1 percent of students with a paid internship under their belt had received at least one job offer, but only 37 percent of former unpaid interns could say the same – only 1.8 percent more than students who had never interned.
I know, it sucks. That doesn’t mean you should throw up your hands and say “screw internships.”
First off, an internship is going to give you a glimpse at your future. Maybe you hate it. At least you have time to rethink, take some different classes, and pursue a different path. Your internships will each teach you different skills to add to your résumé and give you more experience in the field than a classroom can give you. In some fields, you have little to no chance without a few internships under your belt. Besides all that, you’ll probably become friendly with other interns at the company who can become a great resource in the future!
The best thing an internship can bring you is connections, which are more likely to get you a job (or at least an interview) than anything else. I know this first hand: I got a job at Seventeen magazine because a friend and classmate from college recommended me. In fact, I did freelance work for College Candy before landing this awesome full-time job, but I wouldn’t have gotten that freelance position if it wasn’t for my previous experience!
There’s no way to 100% ensure that a job will be waiting for you at the end of an internship. It depends on tons of factors: Is there an opening? Is it a position you have the skills for and would like? But mostly, it depends on your performance, so even if you’re running errands and making coffee, make the best damn coffee they ever tasted.
[Lead image via Shutterstock]