Friday, October 10, 2008

U.S. Economic Situation: Good Time for Internships?

Internships may actually be more available during this economic time. That’s because companies are being forced to lay off employees and this may cause those companies to be short-handed. If you offer yourself as an unpaid intern, you may be snapped up to fill in the gap.

And when a company is short-handed, there’s usually more of a chance for an intern to get to do real work tasks rather than just making coffee and delivering the in-house company mail.

What does this mean for you? If you’ve been wanting an internship to try out a specific career field or get credentials on your resume for a future job, now is the time to do this.

Brainstorm with friends or family about the companies in your area that may need the kind of intern you want to be. Read your local newspaper to see who is laying off large numbers of employees. Then contact those companies if they appear to be the kind of company at which you’d like to intern.

The company’s HR person may not be the best person to contact. He or she is dealing with layoffs and might not take kindly to an intern request when that intern might do the job of a previously paid employee. But a department manager, desperate for more helping hands, might be very open to meeting with you.

Therefore, chose carefully who you will approach. If you want a marketing internship, choose someone in the marketing department. If you want an accounting internship, choose someone in the accounting department.

If you’re good at pitching yourself in writing, then do so for the first approach. If you’re better pitching yourself in a phone call, do that for the first approach.

Remember that with all the issues on the minds of managers today, your request may get buried even though you could really be useful to the company. If you don’t get a response within a few days, do approach the person again. Just be sure to make your approaches in good taste and do not appear to be a nudge.

Be prepared to explain how you can help the manager/company. Then, if you get the internship, do a terrific job of helping out. This could even be your opportunity for a paying job at this company when the economy picks up, or at the very least the opportunity to get a terrific recommendation.

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