Help Them Land Those Internships!
Nancy Berk, Ph.D. is the author of College Bound and Gagged: How To Help Your Kid Get Into A Great College Without Losing Your Savings, Your Relationship, or Your Mind. She speaks and writes extensively about surviving the college-bound process. A clinical psychologist, comic, professor, and parent, she is a blogger for The Huffington Post, USA TODAY College, and MORE Magazine. Nancy is the mom of one college graduate and one college freshman, both believe their aunt is much cooler than she is.
Higher education is a family affair these days, and it’s not unusual for aunts and uncles to be involved in the process. But think again if you thought it was over after the college acceptance letter. That’s right, internships are often important pieces of a student’s academic portfolio and you just might be pulled into the fray. Like college admissions, the ins and outs of internships have changed significantly over the last several decades. So how can you help your nieces and nephews get an internship edge and calm down their parents? Check out these five tips to give you, and them, a jump start.
1. Get with the Times
Internships are more than just another box to check on the road to graduation. In addition to skill building, a great internship experience can pave the way for job opportunities. For this reason, competition can be tough and students should investigate a number of options. It’s important to also keep in mind that the student may know best (or at least more than parents and even savvy aunties) when it comes to internship options and decisions. If their field of study isn’t yours, back off a bit and listen to the wisdom of the student and his or her faculty advisors. High gloss internships may look attractive to an outsider, but insiders will have the real statistics to guide the applicant in the best direction.
2. Look at the Big Picture
Paid versus unpaid internships is a touchy subject in higher education. Unpaid internships can create an unfair advantage for those with more financial security, although these internships may satisfy curricular requirements. These are important details a student must thoroughly investigate with their university before making their choices. While we want our family members to be financially compensated for their work, it’s also important to consider the bigger picture in a student’s career. Will the dues he/she pays, pay off in the career sector?
3. Do the Research
Internship exploration and opportunities have expanded thanks to the internet. From Google searches of corporation internships to sites designed to maximize internship options and exposure, there’s a lot to be learned while sitting at your desk. For example, InternSushi.com, is a site that allows students to create a digital profile and track and manage internship applications for highly competitive slots in industries like film, television, and fashion. This innovation can level the geographic playing field for students vying for careers that used to tend to pull from New York and Los Angeles.
4. Mine your Connections
Take a look at your network and identify possible internship options should your niece or nephew need them. Connections count, but make sure the fit is a good one. Everyone’s reputation is on the line and a bad match can come back to bite you, your contact, and the student.
5. Teach Self-Promotion
Help your nieces or nephews present themselves well. Teach the importance of self-promotion and the difference between bragging and emphasizing their talents. (One of my favorite resource books: Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Techniques to Get Noticed, Hired, and Rewarded at Work by Jessica Kleiman and Meryl Weinsaft Cooper, ©2011, Career Press.) Help shop for the interview outfit. Review their resumé. Role play an interview. You’ll get extra points in the process just for being savvy.
Published: May 15, 2012