The road to successful young entrepreneurship can take many forms: inventing something people want, filling a need, or helping other young entrepreneurs.
And then there are internships.
We know that readers of our blog are highly ambitious, bright, energized, and college-bound. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of reasons why you should consider an internship – and a few ways to get one that’s right for you.
THEY LOOK GOOD ON COLLEGE APPLICATIONS
We can all pretend like this isn’t a major reason to take an internship. But it is. We know it. You know it. As a college-bound young entrepreneur, you want that college application to outshine the rest. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting that!
Completing an internship, whether it’s just for the summer or longer, shows colleges that you are serious about your life’s path. You know what you want, and you will work hard to get it. Internships show the dedication, responsibility, and commitment colleges look for in a candidate.
THEY OFFER REAL-WORLD EXPERIENCE
It’s one thing to talk to adults about their jobs or to read about what the day-to-day experience is like, but it’s a whole other thing to experience that job for real. While internships aren’t quite the same as full-time careers, they will give you a taste of what it’s like. Think of it as the difference between reading a book about environmental law versus spending the summer working at an environmental law firm.
Being there in person is also the perfect opportunity to add to your young entrepreneurial skillset. If you’re looking to go into the law field, an internship may be a great place to learn how to navigate, say, LexisNexis long before you take the LSATs.
Being there in person can help you decide what specialties you want to pursue, give you ideas of what the job entails, and maybe even help you decide if this is a field you feel good about.
THEY ARE GREAT NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES
Networking is a major part of entrepreneurship. The right people can help you get your dream job after college, provide respectable references, or act as mentors.
Wherever you intern, those established in the field will get a first-hand look at your work ethic, ability to interact with a team, attitude, and competency. They may become your future boss! Interning is a fantastic way to make yourself known in your chosen field before you ever set foot on a college campus.
THEY SHOW YOU HOW A WORKPLACE WORKS
When it came to choosing to which colleges you will apply, what did you do? You probably went on some websites. Maybe you looked up the best colleges for your major.
Once you had a shortlist of potential schools, did you go and visit any of them? Did those visits change your mind? Did they solidify your choice?
Workplace cultures depend on a lot of variables, including size, field, age (of the company, though sometimes it’s also the average age of the employees), and location. Your internship will be like your on-campus, in-person tours. If you’ve always pictured yourself working at a fast-paced global conglomerate, you might learn once you get there that it’s too chaotic for you. Conversely, if you love the thought of working for a tiny non-profit, you might spend a summer at one and decide that you need something bigger for your future.
You’ll also get a good sense of the “soft skills” you need to build for yourself, both in your field and in life. You’ll get to see how people interact with one another, how teams work when there are real-world stakes, how information flows, what power dynamics are like, and more.
–> Now that you’ve decided that an internship is right for you, here’s how to find one.
We’re pretty sure your life is full of adults. If one of them works in a field of interest to you, why not ask about internships? The worst that can happen is they say no. But the best that can happen is they offer you a paid internship! Remember when we said that networking is an important part of entrepreneurship? For young entrepreneurs, that means taking advantage of your older relatives, friends’ parents, and parents’ friends to score an internship. And even if they can’t offer you one, they may be able to connect you with someone who can.
APPLY TO AN ESTABLISHED PROGRAM
We’ve done the work for you. All you need to do is explore these programs. Maybe one fits your needs!
FIND YOUR DREAM JOB AND GO FROM THERE
You’ve spent your life dreaming of the day you become a marine biologist. What does that mean in terms of finding an internship? For starters, do an online search for places in your area that work with aquatic animals. Think aquariums, rehabilitation centers, college labs, and rescue groups. Once you’ve found a handful of places, check their websites – some places will advertise upcoming internship opportunities. Even if they don’t, it never hurts to reach out with a phone call or email and ask about one.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FREE HELP
There’s a free resource right under your nose that can help you get an internship. That resource is your school’s guidance counselor. They probably have a list a mile long of potential internship opportunities for you to consider.
DON’T STOP AT ONE
Just because you did an internship the summer before your junior year, doesn’t mean you should stop there! Naturally, if you loved where you worked and hope to turn it into a career someday, then keep going back. Otherwise, try out a few new things. Love kids? Work at a few different styles of camps, such as a general day camp and a special needs sleepaway camp. If your busy young entrepreneur schedule permits, take on some internships during the school year. One semester you can work weekends at your local theater, the next you might volunteer at a hospital. Take advantage of this time to do some “career-hopping” and see what the world has to offer!
No matter where you intern, remember to present yourself professionally and with the utmost respect for your employers. They, in turn, should treat you with respect. From there, who knows how far you can go!
The Kantner Foundation awards college scholarships to young entrepreneurs in Florida. Click here to learn more and apply.