From Intern to Professional

Matthew Stewart, co-founder of College Works Painting — which provides business experience for college students — offers students tips on how to turn an internship into a job.

This year’s college graduating class will be entering the strongest job market in years, which is due to an aging workforce and retiring baby boomers. The National Association of Colleges and Employers published in their Job Outlook 2018 that, “Employers plan to hire 4 percent more new graduates for their U.S. operations from the Class of 2018 than they did from the Class of 2017.”

However, the conversation about underemployment continues to grow louder. New research from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York suggests that underemployment comes largely from two key factors: competition for entry-level jobs and the insistence of a college degree as a prerequisite for employment.

“The Rockefeller Foundation and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York suggest that underemployment stems largely from competition within the entry-level hiring market and hiring companies’ insistence on a four-year degree as a prerequisite for employment, even for entry-level positions.”

However, recent college graduates are expressing their frustration with trying to enter the workforce in a classic “chicken or the egg” story. “How can I land my first job when job descriptions ask for previous experience in the field?”

Studies show that college students with internship experience relevant to their field made a significant difference in their job search. According to Gallup News, college graduates with internship experience were 34 percent more likely to land a career-related job following graduation than those with no internship experience at all.

“The solution for college students is to increase job experience while still in school, and that means obtaining a hands-on internship every summer while in college,” Stewart says. “Unless you graduate college with a significant amount of real-world job experience, finding a job will be incredibly difficult.”

With that, Stewart offers students four tips on “maximizing their college internship to improve their post-grad job prospects.”

Find an internship that challenges you

“An internship experience that will be meaningful on a resume should make demands of the student,” Stewart says. “Ideally, they’re getting a preview of their chosen profession and an idea of the skills they’ll need to succeed.”

“College students should be looking for experiences that will challenge them,” Stewart says. “When they get out of school they will be competing with thousands of other graduates. They need to ask themselves, ‘Will the internship offer real experience that will separate me from my peers?’”

Treat your internship like a career

“The easiest way to treat your student job like a career is to ask your boss to mentor you,” Stewart says. “Under the mentorship of your supervisor, you can expand your basic job functions.”

Be proactive and take initiative

“Going above and beyond in your internship will set the foundation for your career. You’ll gain confidence by taking initiative, which is a core skill in the business world,” Stewart says. “It’s important to set goals and have a plan of action around those goals.”

Seek Promotion Opportunities

“Again, the mentor factor comes in,” Stewart says. “Build a strong relationship with your mentor and let him or her know you are eager for more responsibility and that you’re up for the challenge. Always check the company job board.”

For more information or resources, visit the NDSU Career Center located in Ceres Hall.

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