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June 16, 2008

Get Experience: Land a Cool Internship

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Get Experience: Land a Cool Internship

Abridged: Fox Business

There is a huge inherent value in an internship, paid or unpaid. Consider it as an investment in your career.
Millions of job seekers across the country compete for internships every year, but many have no idea how to find the right position -- let alone actually get an offer.

Submit a generic cover letter or say one wrong thing during your interview and you could find yourself in the reject pile. Here are some simple tips to help you navigate the dizzying process.

Do your homework. Research a company beforehand because it can really help set you apart from the crowd.

Don't panic. While career counselors stress that you should generally accept the first good offer you receive, you shouldn't feel pressure to give an answer right away. Waiting too long could move you back to the reject pile, but sign on too quickly and you could miss out on another offer somewhere else. The best advice? Just be upfront and ask how long you have to consider.

Weigh all your options when receiving multiple offers. Think about what you're trying to get out of the internship. To ensure that you fully understand what you are getting yourself into, make sure to ask questions. When it comes down to making that decision, try making a pros and cons list for each internship, and also trust your gut. Getting a good vibe from a company is incredibly important.

Don't be star-struck. A well-known firm can have its advantages and often looks good on your resume down the road, but career counselors also say that interns can get a lot more hands-on experience working for a smaller company.

Unpaid internships are a reality. Remember, money isn't everything. But sometimes an internship can lead to bigger things down the road. There is a huge inherent value in an internship, paid or unpaid. Consider it as an investment in your career. There's also the possibility of college credit.

Don't burn bridges. Declining an offer can be tough. Especially when you've gone to great lengths to convince someone that you want the position, only to turn it down for another offer. The key is to be upfront and not play games. Make sure you thank whoever made the offer and lay the groundwork for staying in touch.

Learn something. While all internships inevitably come with a few administrative tasks, selecting the right position and being proactive once you're there can make for a much more rewarding experience. If you do land an internship, try setting up periodic meetings with your supervisor to see how the internship is going from their perspective and inquire about what else you could be doing. Take advantage of the opportunity to learn all you can while you're there.

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