You shouldn’t need to have a previous internship to land a future one. Believe it or not, there are companies out there that require students to have experienced an internship before they can receive one within their walls. The whole point of an internship is to get your foot in the door and experience something you haven’t. Students shouldn’t be expected to come into an internship already knowing how everything works.
However, it is competitive no matter where you’re looking. From small non-profits to large corporations like Viacom, you will need to be able to make yourself stand out. If you don’t have internship experience under your belt and are trying to land your first one there are ways to gain great skills right on campus and use them to prove you’re ready.
1. Choose your coursework wisely.
Take classes that you believe will be able to give you an insight on the type of career path you want. If you’re focusing on the creative side, like Production/Design/Development, don’t forget that it’s important to know the business end as well. Take a basic level business course, like Marketing/Finance/Sales, because it will make your skills more valuable.
Most creative departments inside Viacom have to work with our business teams to execute successful projects. (I know Tai Chi sounds fun, but will it really help you with your end goal?) And then don’t be afraid to highlight these relevant courses on your resume within your education section. It will help to emphasize your knowledge and skill set.
2. Get involved on campus.
It you aren’t involved in a club or organization outside of the classroom, you should sign up for one right away. Today there are organizations for every type of background and interest, so there are no excuses. And if you can’t find a club that is right for you, then why not create your own? What a great experience to have on your resume and elaborate about in an interview.
Getting involved in something other than schoolwork is important for various reasons. It shows that you’re passionate about a particular path. It helps you start your networking skills and meet others that share the same passion as you. This can generate even more involvement.
To be honest with you, I learned more relevant skills from being involved in organizations like the National Broadcasting Society and my campus TV station then I did in the classroom. I also met my best friend of now 10 years and my mentor by getting involved. Clubs/organizations/volunteer work should all be listed on your resume as well. Your experience with these types of groups will help you hone your skills just as much as an internship would.
3. Take it in your own hands.
Students today have so many opportunities and knowledge at their fingertips. You should constantly be learning and spending time working on things that interest you. If you love to write, then why not start your own blog? If you want to be an on-air reporter, then you should be practicing in front of a video camera. Why not shoot your own stand-ups? Utilize tools like YouTube and Tumblr to get your voice and talents heard around the world.
Many successful people have been discovered by putting their work out there for the world to see. From Justin Bieber to Tavi Gevinson, your generation has accessibility and reach like never before. It’s up to you to practice and grow. The people that succeed in our industry are not the ones waiting around for the experience to come to them. They are the ones that actively seek it out and work on their craft whenever they can.
4. Be tech savvy.
If you don’t already know how to use Microsoft Office then start practicing. Most companies today use Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on a daily basis. Social Networking programs like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, etc. are great tools as well. Learning new computer programs, camera equipment, editing software, and researching tools are key to staying on top of the way our business adapts and grows. Make sure to list the ones you are knowledgeable of on your resume in a skills section.
If you can work on building your skills through the 4 steps above, then you will most definitely stand out when being considered for your first internship.
Andrea currently holds the position of Manager of College Relations for Viacom. Viacom is one of the world’s leading creators of entertainment content, with brands that engage and connect diverse audiences across television, online, mobile, games, virtual worlds and consumer products. With more than 160 channels worldwide, Viacom owns and operates favorites including MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and many others. As Manager, Andrea recruits, interviews, and places intern candidates throughout Viacom’s brands and divisions. She also assists with the planning and facilitation of both internal and external events for the internship program including orientations, speaker/informational forums, and campus recruitment. Andrea is tasked with making and maintaining relationships with students and their schools, as well as the staff at Viacom. Connect with Andrea on Facebook and Twitter and learn more about the Viacom Internship Program.