Speaking to a room full of eager students who were balancing taking notes and eating pizza, IM Flash Intern Program Manager Todd Russell detailed how to break into the job market.
“Internships are the number one pipeline to hiring new talent, because it’s a summer long interview,” said Russell. “We want to see if you are someone that we want to invest more time and money into.”
In preparation for the STEM on February 8 Fair Russell told students how they can get internships and how they can succeed in them. He remarked that many students are left desperately scrambling to find internships in the spring when they really should have been looking in the fall.
However, it isn’t too late if you don’t have your internship yet. Many internships are taken, but some are still open and the career fair is the chance to meet employers who may be looking to fill remaining vacancies.
“Plan ahead and ask yourself questions,” he said. ‘You have to do your homework about the company. Go to info sessions to find out what they do and what they are looking for. Then you need to go to career fairs; that time is your face time with employers!”
Russell recommended researching the companies you are interested in before you meet them, so that they will know that you are truly interested when you talk to them. Preparation in order to land an internship is key even if you are a freshman or sophomore, it’s never too early to start looking.
“I have never hired someone I have not met face to face,” he said. “The best way to connect with a company is at a career fair and the next best way is through LinkedIn.”
Russell also encouraged students to have a solid career and school plan mapped out, so they can give clear answers to employers when they ask about future educational and career plans. He said that students could help make that plan by taking classes with a clear purpose in mind because classes are an investment to get a job not just some box to check.
Russell counseled students not to worry too much about needing experience before you get an internship because the internship will give you experience.
“We know you don't have experience, most interns have zero experience,” he said.
He told students that an internship should be a positive experience, but not a summer vacation. He reminisced that some of the previous interns that he managed were not professional and failed to treat the internship like a real job which is a critical mistake. He explained that internships are valuable because they give students the chance to actually get real experience in their chosen field.
“What better way to know what you want do than spending an entire summer with a company,” he said. “It's a self-check, you may change everything you are going do after an internship.”