Landing That Summer Job

With snow still on the ground and a chill still in the air, summer probably is far from your mind. But believe it or not, now’s the time to apply for warm-weather employment — that’s right, internships.

Now, you’ve probably heard all about the current financial crisis and resulting economic recession. And you probably know that companies around the globe are slashing budgets and downsizing workforces. There may be fewer internship opportunities, and it’s increasingly unlikely that you’ll land your dream job.

But it’s important to remember that in a recession, internships may be the saving grace for employers. If they have even a modicum of common sense, they will realize interns can bring in quality talent and get the same work done for less — an especially desirable trait at this point in time.

This is one of the reasons that, in the United Kingdom, government officials have been working to create a national program to encourage big companies to offer temporary employment to the 400,000 students due to graduate this summer, according to a Telegraph article.

So although it might be tough, you can get an internship in this economic downturn. Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Brush up your resume and work samples. Now’s the time to put your best foot forward. And don’t forget to include several references. Just be sure to consult with your references first to verify they are willing to recommend you.

2. Consider an online resume. You can further your professional identity by building a resume on free sites such as nuResume.com. It is a college career network — like LinkedIn for students — that allows you to post opportunities you’re looking for, network with others and market yourself to employers. While this absolutely should not replace a paper resume and traditional search methods, it can serve as an extra boost.

3. Make use of your existing contacts. In these troubled times, every connection counts. Reach out to your professors, friends and family. Tell them you’re looking for an internship and ask if they’re willing to help you.

4. Get creative. “In tough economic times, you just might need to create your own prospects,” according to a GoCollege.com blog. If companies you’re interested in don’t have formal internship programs — and this is the case typically for smaller businesses — pitch them the idea. You will want to research the company thoroughly so you can point out exactly where your abilities would come in handy. (Even better: Show them how you can save them money!) Or you can offer to work for a professor, even if it’s just job shadowing or serving as a personal assistant. Be flexible, and firmly pursue any opportunities you can find.

5. Think outside the cubicle. If you can afford to work for little or no pay this summer, you might want to consider community service, as suggested by GoCollege.com. “Here again, think through the options so that you find a non-profit that would also offer you the chance to use your skills to help perform some additional meaningful opportunities,” the blog suggests.

For example: “One student we know volunteered at a food bank. While the majority of the time was spent stocking shelves and doing inventories and paperwork, she was given the chance to use her technology skills to help set up a system to automate some of these tasks,” the blogger wrote. The added bonus? “While much of her time at first was unpaid, as time progressed the agency began to pay her for the hours she spent automating the agency’s record keeping.”

6. If you’ve had no luck, consider classes. According to an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, two- and four-year institutions are expecting an increase in the number of students enrolling in online courses. I. Elaine Allen, an associate professor at Babson College and one of the authors of the report, told the Chronicle: “If you don’t have a job, lowering your gas costs is not your primary motivation for going back to school online. Time-wise, you have the flexibility of logging online and taking the course whenever you want.” 

– Agatha Gilmore, agilmore@certmag.com

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