Want a Job? Grab That Internship

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Menlo Park, Calif. — Aug. 20

Technology students heading back to college this fall may want to add something to their busy class schedules: an internship.

In a recent survey, 79 percent of chief information officers said internships are an important consideration when hiring new graduates for IT positions; only 13 percent viewed these programs as unimportant. The other 8 percent responded doesn’t apply/don’t know.

The national survey was developed by Robert Half Technology, a provider of information technology professionals on a project and full-time basis, and conducted by an independent research firm. The survey is based on more than 1,400 telephone interviews with CIOs from a random sample of U.S. companies with 100 or more employees.

“There is high demand for IT professionals in areas such as Web development and business analytics, but experience is key,” said John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology. “Employers expect new hires to contribute right away, and experience gained through internships can help recent graduates hit the ground running.”

Graduates should study the job descriptions of the positions they’re applying for and highlight the relevant skills they’ve gained through internships or volunteer work, according to Reed. “Point out the specifics of the projects you worked on and the skills you developed while interning for an organization,” he said.

Robert Half Technology offers these five tips to help hopeful IT professionals make the most of their internships:

1.    Act the part. Rather than thinking of yourself as “just an intern,” adopt the mindset of a full-time employee. Get off to a strong start by clarifying core duties, priorities and goals with your supervisor early on.

2.    Be upbeat. Accept assignments with enthusiasm, even when you’re asked to tackle less-than-glamorous tasks. Ask for feedback on your performance, and show that you can take direction, collaborate effectively with others and respond well to constructive criticism.

3.    Sweat the details. Small actions can have a big impact on the impression you make. For example, if you’re tethered to your smartphone, you could be perceived as distracted and disengaged. Running habitually late, even by only a few minutes, could signal that you’re not taking the internship seriously.

4.    Network. Use your time on-site to forge new business relationships. You want to impress your direct supervisor and colleagues so that you leave with strong references. Go to lunch with co-workers, attend company events and strike up conversations at the water cooler.

5.    Say thanks. Write thank-you notes to those who helped or mentored you during your internship and commit to staying in touch.

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