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5 Tips to Help Your Child Win the Internship Game 5 Tips to Help Your Child Win the Internship Game
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5 Tips to Help Your Child Win the Internship Game

Insights & Ideas Team •  May 14, 2015 | Home and Family

There’s good news for college graduates this year. Employers are expected to boost hiring by 9.6 percent over 2014, according the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ (NACE) spring update. They also found that more U.S. employers plan to offer signing bonuses to 2015 graduates than they have for any other graduating class in the past five years.

Along with these promising findings comes a reminder: Even with the uptick in hiring, graduates need to position themselves for success. Employers may be hiring, but they’re expecting candidates to have the skills, competency and relevant work experience necessary to make a contribution on the job, according to a report out of Michigan State University’s College Employment Research Institute.

The paradox facing many college students is that in order to get a job they want, they need experience; yet the only way to get that experience is through a job. For many young adults, getting an internship is often the fastest and most relevant way to gain that exposure, boost their résumé and, as many hope, shine brightly enough to land a full-time job.

Finding the right internship is the first step; maximizing its value is next. As the parent of an internship seeker, what can you do to help make that happen for your child? Here are five tips to help your child gain an edge.

1. Understand what sparks your child’s interests. Finding the right internship can be overwhelming to many students. Help your child narrow the field by asking about his or her idea of an ideal assignment. For example, does he want a brief stint at a company during a school break, a full-time position during the summer or a part-time internship that lasts throughout the school year? Similarly, does your child want to work in a business setting or a more casual environment? The answer to these questions can help you point your child toward the opportunities that best suit his needs.

2. Let your child take the lead. Allow your child to take the lead in searching for an internship and writing a résumé and cover letter. Be sure to check in with her periodically to discuss what she’s learned. This may be a good time to offer ideas for edits and/or improvements to her résumé and cover letter, if needed.

3. Set reasonable expectations. An internship should offer the opportunity to learn new skills and gain hands-on experience. To leverage this opportunity, make sure your child has a clear sense of what the day-to-day responsibilities of the internship will be. If your child will be taking on meaningful projects, improving skills and gaining insight into his desired industry, great. However, if he is going to be spending the majority of the day making copies and delivering coffee, you may want to discuss how valuable the internship will be to his career goals. Also keep in mind: Your college student will want to take away something tangible from the experience, which means making sure his employer is willing to give both a written letter and an online (LinkedIn) recommendation at the end of the internship.

4. Encourage your child to be proactive. To help your child stand out as an intern, discuss ways that she can make the best of whatever responsibilities come her way. The most valued interns are team players who take initiative and pitch in where needed. They’re curious, enthusiastic and eager to learn.

5. Discuss the value of networking. You’ve heard it before: It’s not just what you know, it’s also who you know. An internship provides a good opportunity for your child to begin building a network of business contacts. After your child completes an internship, remind her to keep in touch with the people she worked with directly. Even if they can’t offer a full-time position, help your child understand that these people can vouch for her work experience and provide advice and references during her job search and beyond.

NACE found that 95 percent of employers identified candidate experience as a key factor in the hiring decision. Whether an internship is paid or unpaid, full or part time, this vital collegiate experience can help your college student network and add the skills, expertise, confidence and knowledge needed to make his or her résumé a stand out in today’s competitive job market.

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