It’s one of the most common and frustrating career dilemmas college students face: "To get a good job after graduation, I need experience. But how do I get experience without having a job in the first place?"
One common – and wise – solution: An internship, paid or unpaid, part-time or full-time.
Easy enough. But how do you get one? Well, one or more of the following strategies is likely to do the trick:
Work with a Career Counselor at Your School.
Career counselors know where other students from your school are interning now or have interned before. They also work closely with on-campus recruiters from organizations in the area and even nationally. Thus, career counselors can be a prime source of internship leads for you.
Talk to Your Professors.
Like career counselors, your professors will also know where at least some students are interning now or have interned before. Additionally, many professors have consulting, research and other ties to various companies and organizations outside of academia; thus, they may be aware of internship programs hosted by these organizations.
Network with Your Fellow Students.
If a student you know has an internship that intrigues you, ask him for advice on landing a similar internship yourself, either with the same organization or elsewhere. Chances are that students who have internships now have a better sense of the many internship opportunities that exist, in both their own organizations and in others. So be sure to tap into their collective knowledge, especially as it relates to people you should contact.
Use Your School’s Alumni Network.
Most campuses, usually through their career services or alumni offices, work hard to establish and maintain contacts with alumni working in various organizations and industries. Consider contacting some alumni from your school to check into internships in their places of employment. You’d be surprised by how strong the fellow alum tie can be.
Tap into the Resources of Your Own Family, Friends and Acquaintances.
Does your mother’s company have an internship program? Does your sister’s friend’s nonprofit organization offer any internship possibilities? Many college students don’t think to ask their family members, friends and acquaintances to help them with career-related tasks like internship hunting. Be sure you don’t fall into this trap.
Page Through an Internship Directory.
If you stop by your school’s career services or campus library, or spend some time browsing in your campus or local bookstore, you’ll undoubtedly find one or more internship directories listing internship programs at organizations around the US. Several companies publish these guides, including Peterson’s Internships and The Internship Bible. These books are typically well indexed so you can search for internships by organization, field of interest and geographic location.
Check out Internship Sites on the Web.
Search for internship opportunities on the Web. If you’re willing to go almost anywhere for your internship, you’ll be able to find many opportunities. You can look for internships using Monster’s internship search tool.
Once you’ve developed a list of internships, you can work with a career counselor to ready yourself for the important tasks to follow. Among them: developing and writing a resume and cover letter, learning how to follow up with prospective internship providers to keep yourself in the front of their minds, and preparing for internship interviews.
With time and diligence, your efforts will pay off — in an internship that gives you the experience you need to land the future job you want.
This article originally appeared on MonsterTRAK.