Looking back at my career, I’m always thankful that my parents pushing me to get an internship in high school. That single experience has a lot to do with how I got to where I am today. Back in 2001, all of my friends decided to do one last summer as camp counselors before they graduated high school. Instead of following in the same path, I had a job at a local internet service provider making cold calls. Although I never landed any new business, what it taught me was that you have to work hard, if you don’t love what you’re selling you won’t close any business and that I wanted to focus on marketing in college and avoid sales at all costs. That single internship experience ended up helping me getting into the college of my choice and enabled me to get future internships because I already had a track record. Back then, I wouldn’t have guessed what that single internship would do for me over ten years in the future.
Today, we see that unemployment is high, especially for recent college graduates, who also suffer from one trillion in student loan debt. The economy has forced us all to rethink career management . No longer can you wait until your junior year of college, like most career centers recommend, in order to get an internship and pray that it will magically turn into a job. You have to start focusing on your career earlier in life in order to be able to become much more competitive throughout the course of your entire life. Those that wait will face the menacing realities of the job market, where if you aren’t a proven entity, you will get passed over. “For students, work experience is the key to ensure they make a good career decision and build their professional network,” says Robin D. Richards, the CEO of Internships.com.
In a new study called “High School Careers“, by my company and Internships.com, we surveyed 4,769 students, which includes 172 high school students and 4,597 college students. 90% of companies agree that high school internship programs can help students get into better colleges, 89% say they’ll have a competitive advantage when looking for a college internship or full-time job, and 83% said those internships will yield better paying jobs. ” The sooner that students can leverage employment opportunities related to their field of study, the more likely they will be to complete their degree and find a relevant career opportunity post graduation,” says Brad McMahon, the SVP of Business and Product Development at +U, an Internships.com partner.
Imaging you’re in college admissions and you see the same old applications day in and day out. Students who have a good GPA, interesting essays and good SAT scores are now a dime a dozen. A college recruiter that sees an internship on an application will be impressed that that student is already career focused, that they took the initiative and are already heading into their freshman year with a solid foundation. Now think of college recruiters who see similar resumes every single day. If they run across a resume with internships dating back to high school, that applicant is going to stand out and have a better chance of getting the job. Furthermore, getting that high school internship, will make it easier to get future internships and jobs, which will set them on a path to long term success.
I urge parents to help their children get on the right bath because then they won’t complain that their son or daughter had to move back home after graduation without a job. I urge students to take initiative because competing in this market isn’t going to get easier. You have to start earlier, work harder and constantly leverage each work opportunity to secure future employment.
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