In reality, every student seeking an internship will not get an opportunity. On the hand, landing an internship is no guarantee that you will get the hard skills that you are looking for to prepare you for your dream job.
However, with the growth of the internet, students can now create their own internship. There are countless tools, tutorials and resources available readily online that a student can use to prepare for the world of work.
In addition, there are various free and budget friendly online learning platforms where one can find affordable classes for a wide variety of skills. The key therefore is to create a path to follow where you can acquire the skills to prepare you for the workplace.
Hereunder is a proposed path that a college student may follow to create his/her own summer internship:-
Outline your career vision
The best place to begin is with the end in mind. That is creating a career vision. Therefore, take some time to reflect on the path that you will want your career to follow.
What do you love? What are your strengths? Are there specific activities that you enjoy? These are some of the questions that you need to ask yourself.
I have created a career vision workbook which details 10 questions that you should ask yourself in creating your career vision. To dig deeper, feel free to sign up by filling in the form below.
Create an internship action plan
Once you have captured your vision, the next step is to create an internship plan. An internship action plan will detail the skills and knowledge that you will need to complete to prepare you for your dream job.
Internship Action Plan
Hereunder are 5 steps that you should consider when creating your internship action plan.
Step 1: Write Down Your Career Vision
As outlined above this means that you have reflected and decided on your desired career path. Write this out in as much detail as you can. You may want to consider getting a specific notebook for this.
Step 2: Research The Industry Online
This entails doing a thorough assessment of the industry that you are interested in online. You can complete this by asking who, what, how and where type questions.
The online world is very important nowadays as there are countless opportunities for individuals to set up small businesses and monetize their interests using the internet.
Questions that you should ask include:
Who are the major players in the industry?
Is there a particular course that all these major players credit their success to?
What are the types of content they produce? Do they have blogs, podcasts or YouTube channels?
Where do their followers hang out? Are they on Pinterest, Facebook or Instagram?
How are they making money online? Are they using affiliate marketing, making their own products or selling kindle books?
Step 3: Research The Industry in the Your Country/ Region/ City
Depending on size, your research should be based on the country, region and or city.
As an example, if you live on an island in the Caribbean you should research the industry within your country and also among major players in the Caribbean region.
Repeat the same process by asking who, what, how and where type questions as per above.
Step 4: Identify the Knowledge Gaps
From doing a thorough review of the industry both online and offline, you should now have an overview of the skills that you require to execute a role in this field. Because of the importance of the internet today, it is fundamental that you build skills related to the online world.
Step 5: Create a Plan of Attack
I am sure that you have created a list with a number of skills and areas that you need to work on. Each of these skills will take time to learn and develop.
You cannot complete everything at the same time so it is important that you rank the actions in the plan and approach them one by one. Once you are comfortable with one skill then move to the next.
Seek out a mentor
Once you have completed your plan of attack of what you will like to achieve, the next thing you can do is seek the support of a mentor.
Your mentor need not be a seasoned professional. Someone with a few years work experience ahead of you can provide valuable information especially if they are doing the current role that you will like to do in the future.
While there is no right or wrong approach to identifying a mentor, I will suggest however, that if your prospective mentor is a young and emerging professional that that the individual is doing the exact role that you will like to do in the future.
On the other hand, a more seasoned and experienced professional with depth of work experience need not be an exact match.
Creating the internship plan will also help you prepare for your first meeting with your mentor as you will have a clear outline of what you will like to achieve. This plan will help guide the mentor-mentee relationship.
I have created a mentor questionnaire workbook which you may also find valuable. Feel free to fill in the form below for a copy.
Remember that your mentor need not be someone with whom you meet face to face. If from your research you have identified someone who you admire in the field, feel free to reach out and ask for help via email or LinkedIn.
Don’t be nervous or shy. The response can only be one of two-either yes or no.
Consider a job shadow
You may be able to reach out to an organisation or someone in your community that you can shadow for a period of time. This information should come from your research of the industry.
The process of shadowing someone in an organisation is called a job shadow. A job shadow is the process of learning a role by interacting with the person completing the job on a day to day basis. Job shadows are usually unpaid.
Job shadows are a great way of getting your foot in the door. Since they are unpaid some companies may be more open to receiving you for a period of time. So identify aspects from your internship plan and reach out to organisations.
I have completed a post on this blog on how to prepare for a job shadow which you may find useful if this opportunity arises.
Implement the internship action plan
Commitment and dedication to the achievement of the plan is the final step. If you have created a fantastic internship plan but fail to action any of the steps, then you have wasted your time.
There may be several distractions since you are working from home, so be sure to plan accordingly. Is there a public library that you can visit and work there? How many hours per day are you dedicating to your internship?
Self-discipline will be important. If you do not have a mentor and will not be at an office, you are accountable to yourself.
So create a time table and set deadline to ensure that you are making progress. This process will also help you develop some soft skills which will be valuable in the workplace and in life.
Create rewards to keep yourself motivated and focus on the task. As the late great Kobe Bryant will say Mamba Mentality.
Trust this post serves as a ray of hope as it could be disappointing if you do not get a summer internship. Remember with the growth of the internet you can create your own summer internship so get busy.
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