College grads: Be open to internships, alternative options

This week was an exciting one for me.

I was offered a job and am now officially employed as a full-time public relations specialist at an agency in Neenah, Wis.

I’m not going to pretend the last few months have been easy. I am a May 2009 UW-Madison graduate. After graduation, I had no desire to move home and take an internship after living on my own for 4 years. After a lot of consideration, however, that seemed to be my best option.

It was tough to swallow my pride, but everything has proved to be a step in the right direction. Did I WANT to take an unpaid internship? Of course not. Was I thrilled about moving back to my home town to live with mom and dad? Another no. But, a few sacrifices and months later, I have secured a full-time position and am hopefully on my way toward a fulfilling career.

Tough job market prompts alternative options

Recent college graduates have encountered a brutal job market, and even some of the best students find themselves struggling to secure a full-time position.

If you are struggling to find a job, I highly encourage you to consider options after graduation that perhaps aren’t your first choice, but may be a career step in the right direction. It’s important to always keep the long-term in mind and how your immediate decisions will ultimately affect your career path.

An internship, volunteer work, or part-time employment at a company of interest is a great way to get your foot in the door. Don’t settle for something that is going to make you miserable. Instead, think about the little steps you can take to push yourself in the right career direction. Don’t be afraid to contact companies you would love to work at and ask them what kind of internship or volunteer work they could offer.

It’s OK if you don’t have a full-time job immediately after graduation, but you must be proactive in seeking other opportunities. A great way to market yourself to employers is to show that you are staying in touch with your industry and working to make yourself a better employee.

And, always keep your mentors and network informed of your place in the job search. They are some of your best resources for internships and job opportunities.

Of course, the ideal solution for most college students would be to secure that full-time job right away, but unfortunately the job market is dictating many of our choices right now. Experience, creativity, resources and internships—along with a lot of patience—will help put you on the right career path.


Cassie is a May 2009 University of Wisconsin-Madison Ag Journalism graduate. She recently unfolded her passion for public relations during her short stint as a PR consultant for a Madison, Wis. area non-profit and is looking to dive into the field professionally. Find Cassie on TwitterBrazenCareerist, and LinkedIn.

Related posts:

  1. High School Grads: Get a Jumpstart on College
  2. The Right Post-Graduation Move: Internships
  3. Facebooking for Internships

3 Responses to “College grads: Be open to internships, alternative options”

  1. Thanks for the information. Accepting internships is an important aspect of the college experience. In my junior I had the opportunity to intern for the Federal Reserve which granted me tremendous experience. All career focused students should take this path.

    What advice would you give the non-traditional college student? Many adults that are married with children are returning to college and hearing about internships but are not sure how to incorporate an internship into that lifestyle


  2. Great advice, Cassie! Every new or upcoming graduate should be open to any opportunities that could push them further in their job search. Internships, volunteer work, and part-time employment can help you keep learning and are oftentimes an excellent window into a full-time position.

    Congrats on your new job!

    Heather R. Huhman
    Founder, Come Recommended

  3. avatar Bags says:

    Love this post. Great advice. IT reminds me a lot of what Seth Godin said last year. Just because things don’t pan out exactly as you plan doesn’t mean they won’t pan out.

    To be honest, I’m a bit nervous for April… that’s when I graduate. Lots of decisions to be made between now and then.

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