By Andrea E. Cruz
Andrea E. Cruz is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism at Florida International University. She lived in Seville, Spain in 2011-2012, where she studied Spanish journalism and interned in news at a local TV station. She has completed several internships in the communications field and held various leadership positions with campus organizations.
College is a time of growth and learning, but you should make sure you are not limiting your learning opportunities to just textbooks and lectures. Internships are the best way of gaining real-life knowledge and experience in your chosen field of study. An internship can either confirm your passion for your career choice or steer you in the right direction.
There is nothing like working inside of a company and rubbing elbows with its staff and employees to give you an advantage before you even complete your degree. There you will learn new skills and meet the people who may one day give you your first job.
You must keep in mind that your college years are most likely the ONLY time when you will have these opportunities available to you, as the majority of companies and corporations require for you to receive college credit in order to participate in their internship program. So don’t miss out!
Here are some tips to keep in mind before and during your internship(s):
Use your school’s resources: Most schools have a career or experiential education office where you can find out about networking opportunities, internship fairs and other career resources.
Start early: Many programs encourage juniors and seniors to apply for internships, but you may be able to start as early as your sophomore year. The more internships you can complete the better for your career and professional experience. I completed six, and did my first one while still in High School!
Research your options: Start by looking through the websites for companies that you are interested in. There you can find information about their internship programs or contact information to reach out to them.
Mind deadlines: Many companies begin interviewing internship candidates several months in advance, specially the more competitive programs. Make sure to follow instructions and turn in all application materials ahead of the deadlines.
A note on geography: You may find out about internship opportunities in other states or even abroad. Those are great experiences that will provide you with unique perspectives of your field. However, make sure to also participate in internships in the area where you plan to live after completing college. The closer you get to graduation the more important this becomes, since your last internship may open doors to your first job.
Networking: Once you land an internship, your first goal should be to leave a great impression of your work. Your second goal should be to take advantage of every opportunity to network! Try to connect with as many people as you can and begin to build your professional network. Even after you leave make sure to keep in touch in order to cultivate possible job leads.
No matter where you end up, just remember to maintain a positive and professional attitude and give your best. Good luck!
Expanding Your Horizons by Studying Abroad
There is no better time to live abroad than as a college student. Spending a few months, a semester, or even a year as a student in a foreign country guarantees a fulfilling experience that one cannot acquire by merely visiting as a tourist.
Studying abroad gives you the opportunity to learn about different cultures and ways of life. It also allows you to meet people your age that may share your same interests and are also curious about your country. At the end of your experience you will not only possess a greater understanding of foreign societies but also a new perspective of your own native culture.
Some additional practical benefits can be:
• Learning or improving a foreign language
You can take language courses taught by native-speaking professors, and practice with the interactions of day-to-day life.
• Adding diversity to your college curriculum
Some study abroad programs allow you to obtain a minor or master’s degree, and you can replace courses at your home institution with more interesting options abroad.
• Completing an internship
Depending on your host country’s regulations you may be able to participate in an internship with a company in your field of study.
• Increasing your potential appeal for future employers
In today’s globalized society nothing yells “international experience” louder than having studied abroad, which gives you a competitive edge. Feel free to highlight the fact in your resume and cover letters.
Above all, always remember to be open minded"not just when living abroad but also when it comes to choosing your host country. I spent a year living in a country and city that were not my first choices.
Now I would not change that experience for anything, as it took me out of my comfort zone and opened my eyes to new possibilities. There I also made new friends from all over the world that I still keep in touch with and was later able to visit in their home countries.
At the end, studying abroad is an experience that will continue to bring you rewards many years down the road.