If you’ve ever applied for a job, you’re probably aware you need to keep your grade-point average in check, know how to write a great cover letter, and put your best foot forward in an interview. But did you know your chances of landing your dream job will multiply exponentially if you get hands-on experience in your desired field during college?
Internships are more important than ever in today’s highly competitive economy. In fact, many companies won’t even consider hiring you if you don’t have at least one internship on your resume.
“Our new employees are required to have an internship with us or at least three to six months experience in our industry,” says Tom Bradford, manager of recruiting and training for Crop Production Services (CPS), a premier agricultural retail supplier that serves 48 states. “We try to ensure people know something about the way we do business before they ever enter our training program. Studies show the success rate of employees in first jobs is not that great. We’re trying to better select people for full-time employment by utilizing internships.”
A Win-Win for All
Internships are a win-win for both companies and job seekers, because they give both the employee and the employer a look at each other without a long-term commitment.
“If someone comes to CPS and wants to work for us, we can see how they interview for a paid internship, which allows them to learn about the company and maybe do a summer project,” Bradford explains. “It lets us see if they’re truly interested and if they can follow through on what we ask them to do, and they can decide if this is where they really want to be or somewhere else.”
Jim Loar, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Wilbur-Ellis Co.’s Agribusiness Division in Walnut Creek, Calif., says his company prefers hiring interns because “interns show us they have been aggressive and willing to learn about the industry and that they have identified a career path they are truly interested in and excited about.”
Where to Find Internships
Students can learn about internship opportunities through company websites, from teachers and college professors, at college Career Services offices, and at job fairs.
“Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call a company you are really interested in,” Loar says. “They may have a local opportunity that doesn’t appear on their website. Also many companies post job opportunities on their social media pages, such as LinkedIn. And don’t forget to check various trade organizations for a listing of opportunities.”
Wilbur-Ellis has as many as 10 new interns each year in the Dakotas, and Loar says every year the company hires two or three new employees primarily chosen from their interns. CPS actively recruits interns from at least 45 colleges and universities nationwide.
“Internships allow us to get to know an individual’s work ethic and integrity and to make sure they are a great fit for our team,” Loar says. “If an internship or any opportunity is important to you, work to get it.”
– Jessica Mozo