Internships v. Volunteering

I was talking to a guy taking classes at my Alma Mater. He thought he'd like to get into marketing and wanted an internship. I asked if he visited the internship office and he said he did, but thought that there were some strings attached. I told him it was just like looking for a job, but the difference was that he probably wouldn't get paid. There are internships where you get paid, but they're kind of rare. Heck, if you find one, though - go for it!

It may seem that an internship sounds suspiciously like volunteering, but it's not. The difference is that you're getting school credit, hands on experience in your field and you're only doing it for a short time. If you volunteer, they know they can get you for free and indefinitely. If you do an internship and impress them, the only way they can keep you is to hire you.

Internships are invaluable. They're kind of a pain in the butt to find, but I recommend a couple things:
  • The obvious: go to your school's internship office! If your school doesn't have an internship office, go to the nearest university that does.
  • Ask upperclassmen where they've looked. You might know someone on the inside.
  • Go to the library, for crying out loud.
  • Go to a job fair.
  • Search CareerBuilder.com, Monster.com and the like
  • Figure out where you'd like to work and inquire. Remember, you're probably not going to get paid, so at least enjoy the work.
  • Don't limit yourself to internships in your direct area. I could have taken my own advice, but I was blessed by awesome internships. Fact is, sometimes there are amazing opportunities in all kinds of places - from huge metropolises to small towns. Besides, it's for a short time.

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