Interning in DC has been a stepping stone for numerous politicians and DC power players over the years. Even comedian Conan O’Brien got his start as an intern in the House of Representatives. TFAS Staffer Elizabeth Matecki provides some insight on the importance of interning, and how to get the most value from your experience.
Resume Builder: Whether you’re thinking about graduate school or planning to enter the job force right after college, today’s market is very competitive. Because of the amount of downsizing and layoffs we’ve seen in the past two years, it is much more difficult to get a job as people are applying for positions they are overqualified for. It’s tough to get your foot in the door without work experience.
Interning is the perfect opportunity to gain that much-needed experience. While most internships are unpaid, the experience gained is invaluable and will help make you more qualified for a paid position after college.
Professional Experience: Look for internship opportunities with more then just the stereotypical “intern duties” in the job description. Of course being the low-man on the totem pole means some tedious tasks will be part of the job, but many smaller organizations are able to give their interns meaty and interesting projects. After proving that you can do the smaller tasks well and in a timely fashion, your supervisor will be able to trust you with larger, more complicated projects.
Look for positions that need “creative and entrepreneurial” interns. Chances are you’ll get to do more then just get coffee for a higher up, and will be able to take ownership of some of your own projects and schedule.
Networking: Getting a job is dependent on your qualifications, but equally important is who you know. Interning not only gives you professional experience to add to your resume, but also provides an opportunity to obtain a strong letter of recommendation from an employer, and allows for opportunities to build your professional network.
Keep an eye out for opportunities to meet new people. In a city like DC there are many public speaking events that professionals and power players in the District attend on a regular basis. Meeting people outside of your company is key to expanding your professional network. Keep an eye out for our upcoming blog post focused on networking tips that is coming soon!
Personal Development: Interning is not only a chance to build your resume; it’s an opportunity to find out what you would like to do in the professional world. Interning is perhaps the most valuable learning experiences you can gain before you enter the workforce. Who wants to be stuck in a job you hate right after you leave college? Interning is a great way to test the waters in a particular career field.
Working in an office environment and learning more about various professional cultures can teach you not only what you’re most valuable skills are, but also what you like the most. Do you prefer to work 9 to 5? Or are unconventional hours more your style? Are you someone who enjoys a more hectic and fast-paced work day as opposed to a methodical, planned out one? Do you work best with strict deadlines or do you prefer to move at your own pace? These are all things that students often do not figure out through their coursework in college. Interning is the perfect chance to figure out exactly what you’re looking for after college.
Look at your interning experience not only as an opportunity to build your resume, but as a chance to learn. Even when you’re doing data entry or grabbing coffee for someone, you’ll see the value of the experience and be a lot more likely to enjoy it.