Internships: The Best Way to Turn Graduation Dread into Excitement

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Today we are happy to welcome a Guest Blog Post by Carol Horner of Read on for tips on pursuing an internship, and the advantages for career success.

–Dollars 4 Tic Scholars

Carol Horner

Internships:  The Best Way to Turn Graduation Dread into Excitement

My son graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in civil engineering.  He knew he wanted to be an engineer from a young age and Georgia Tech was one of the top schools for his chosen field.  So you can imagine the “happy dance” we all broke into when he received that acceptance letter.

Once he began college, I learned that Georgia Tech was rich with unique traditions that date back to its beginnings in 1885.  Fun fact: Tech grads refer to graduating as “Getting Out”!  You would think that the esteem of earning a degree would be referred to as something more uplifting than “getting out”.

Students from Georgia Tech refer to their graduation as “getting out” because of the rigor they endure in a school that earned its reputation as one of the most attractive to hiring managers from the best companies in the world. Georgia Tech grads are truly “getting out” of the restraints of scrutiny from world-class professors known for ultra-high standards and the terror of failing classes only to be saved by just-in-time grade curves.  No wonder they can’t wait to get out into what they think is an easier world. But then again, is the working world seen by students as a better prospect?

Crossing Over to the Real World

That expression “getting out” made me think about what students feel as they cross the bridge from college to career.  Having worked with private student clients for the past decade, I can attest to the anxiety and sometimes even dread that students feel, and are confused by, as they get that diploma handed to them.

College prepares you to learn, think more critically and discipline yourself, but does it prepare you for what’s next – success in a career?  With the demand school places on your time and energy, it is hard to think of anything other than getting good grades.

Our most successful student clients found the transition into their first career job easier when they had at least one internship related to their discipline. How do you land a great internship? It doesn’t just happen.  But there are actions you can take to get that internship and make the transition into the working world easier.

Strategies to Find Your Internship

Use your Career Center: Tuition covers more than payment for courses. Smart students utilize every resource on campus. Every good university has a career center. It’s just too late if you wait to tap its offerings until senior year.  Visit them no later than the beginning of sophomore year. Most CC’s have workshops in job search, etiquette, interviewing and much more.  And if they don’t, meet with an advisor to get your questions answered.  Their web pages are constantly being updated with job postings and industry news as well. Visit often.

Get to know your professors:  Employers know that professors are the first to come in contact with top students and have first-hand knowledge of their work ethic.  That’s why they often approach faculty when looking to fill positions? Get in that candidate pipeline by introducing yourself to your professors the first week of class and visit their office regularly.  Professors are more likely to refer a student who has forged a professional relationship with them. Professors will not seek you out.  YOU have to make it happen.

Don’t miss the College Career/Job Fairs:  Did you know that most companies do their hiring for internships at the Fall job fair?  It seems early, but they have to get a move on their recruiting in order to get the best students.  If you’re not in attendance at the fair, your competition will get the best jobs. It’s that simple. Prepare by getting that training from your Career Center.  Another inside tip: Many companies hold information sessions on campus prior to the Job Fair. Don’t miss those either.  Choose the companies you are most interested in and show up with personal business card and resume in hand. After the presentation, introduce yourself.  Companies often fast-track students they recognize from the previous night’s information session to the interview stage.  It’s worth your while!

Talk to older students: Here’s an insider tip: Companies often ask previous interns to refer their next ones. Get to know someone in your major who has already interned at a company you are interested in. Ask them about their experience, how they landed their internship and to critique your resume. If they are impressed with your initiative and accomplishments, they might even refer you for the next intern class.

Make the most of the Internship: Once you’ve landed an internship, take full advantage of this great opportunity.  Employers view their intern programs as their top recruitment tool – It’s like a long interview for both you and the employer to evaluate each other. It also gives you a taste of what it’s like to be an employee.  Beware: As an intern, you will be assigned entry-level duties and since you’ll start at the bottom when hired by your first post-grad employer, it’s good to know what the “bottom” looks like.

My son was fortunate enough to have three internships before “getting out” of Georgia Tech. So after he landed his first career job, I nervously asked him how his first day went.  He said “Great! I’ve had three first days already!”

With internship experience under your belt, you’ll be better prepared for the working world and a successful career. And that feeling of dread? You’ll replace it with excitement for the future!

Carol Horner is the co-creator, along with her business partner Benton Howie, of They help students navigate college to make career choices, land successful internships and begin their careers. They also assist graduate school hopefuls through the application and interview process. They work with private clients and present interactive workshops to groups and campuses throughout the country.  Visit for details on services.