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CAREERS

4 Elements to Look for in an Internship

Aug. 4, 2021

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Paige Dahl

VoyagerNetz Delta LLC

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Overview

Searching for internships can be difficult and overwhelming. I was headed into my senior year of college and I had not secured much work experience for myself. I had looked for a marketing internship all year and to no avail. So you can imagine my shock that a month into my summer break, I suddenly found an internship that turned out to be educational, intriguing, and one of the best experiences anyone could ask for.

There are 4 lessons I learned from this internship:

  1. Look into smaller businesses
  2. Use good old-fashioned networking
  3. Find a business that is interesting and new to you
  4. Use “intern” status to your advantage

Look into Smaller Businesses

It seems like most people strive to intern for Tesla, Disney, or Apple, but that may be extremely difficult to land because there is a lot of competition for such highly sought after internships. Personally, I didn’t want to work for a larger corporation, especially one that I would have to move to another city for and I wanted a unique experience. You may want to consider that there are local businesses right in your area that can offer an even more enriching personal internship, that certainly was the case for me!

A friend of mine was offered an internship at Amazon (wow!), but she had to work three hours away from home and move to a new city. That can be a fantastic opportunity if that is what you want. When looking in Illinois, most internships were two hours away in downtown Chicago. Ideally, I wanted to stay home for the summer, save money, and still get a great experience. The solution to finding a balanced internship that was accessible and flexible, while offering an enriching environment full of potential, was applying to small local businesses. So how does one get the best of both worlds?

Use good-old-fashioned networking

To be frank, I don’t enjoy using application websites like Handshake, Jobscan, or Indeed. Make no mistake, they are great for finding internships at bigger companies, but they can be difficult and even intimidating to use. The idea that a resume must have the correct key words or phrases so the system can flag it, so that someone might look at it, and so that it possibly leads to an interview seemed distant and impersonal. That was the opposite of what I wanted.

In the book The Power of Who, Bob BeaudineI writes about the idea that you already know who you need to know. Parents, friends, professors, and neighbors have connections to someone who has connections to someone else and so forth. Networking with people is the best way to reach small businesses that you might not see offering an internship online.

I ended up meeting a woman while playing tennis at a gym that I normally don’t attend. After talking, she offered to help me find an internship, and within a week she had talked to a business and found they were interested. After a few interviews, the hiring process began and I had a new job. I grew up working different jobs, babysitting, being a barista, coaching volleyball, things that a typical teen does to “build a strong work ethic,” however in my internship I was able to learn about an industry that was unfamiliar to me while applying my studies in marketing as well. A great internship has this element: balancing the unknown with the known and seeing how they connect.

Find a business that is interesting and new to you

I started my internship ready to apply the knowledge I learned in school to VoyagerNetz and the technology industry. VoyagerNetz creates technology products that other businesses can use in order to foster better communication internally and externally. I was intrigued with the VoyagerNetz Engage product, meant to take different communication channels such as text, social media, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and more, and funnel them into one program that businesses could easily use to efficiently help their customers. Gone are the days of long telephone calls, being on hold for 45 minutes, and explaining 5 different times why you need a refund on the pair of shoes that were never delivered (long story). This is what made me thrilled to work for this company: a product I found useful and believed in.

Don’t be afraid to try something new though. That’s a sentence that you’ve probably never heard before, but it's true. Without seeking out a new industry or company, it will be difficult to find a desired field. With a major in marketing and finance, what does communicative technology have in common? Well, turns out, a whole lot. Sales and marketing are a part of every single business. This was something I could apply to a new industry to help determine a possible career path for me. Internships are around 8-10 weeks, making them the perfect way to test out different careers and figure out what you want. Similarly, it's like going to the ice cream store and grabbing a sample of Rocky Road. Do you want to commit to this or maybe switch it up and go with Chocolate Chip?

Use “intern” status to your advantage

As an intern, I was introduced to the aspect of “cold-calling” which I had very limited experience in prior. I will admit, I started out choppily reading from a script and sounding robotic. There were times that I made mistakes and laughed it off with the other person on the phone, but that was okay. The key: tell people you are an intern.

Business owners are busy! The hardest part was trying to get them on the phone. They don’t really want to deal with calls from unfamiliar people. Telling people I was an intern or asking them to answer a few questions as part of my internship, made people much more likely to talk to me. Business owners are more forgiving than I expected, knowing they started off just like me. I felt like I could have casual, authentic conversations that lead to great results, because they wanted to help me in the start of my career. I was honest and still learning, but still wanted to provide value and good work for VoyagerNetz.

Slowly but surely, I built more confidence and was able to set up meetings, survey business owners, and even create a product demonstration video, all helping discover new clients. Feeling like a part of building those successful business relationships was a rewarding feeling, and I was just the intern!

What does this mean?

I didn’t know any of this going into my internship. I felt overwhelmed and confused about acquiring one. My school had taught me valuable information such as building a resume, using LinkedIn, creating an elevator pitch and forming an image for myself, but I was unaware of applying this to the real world. It might be initially daunting, feeling thrown into a new experience unprepared, but I hope my experience can be helpful in showing some lessons I learned and easing those worries.

If you are interested in VoyagerNetz and want to learn more about a possible internship that was similar to mine, text 1-708-797-9681 and see if there is availability for you!

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