In the wake of a deep recession, it’s easy for college students to get discouraged about their job prospects.
But students who succeed in landing jobs will probably be those who have completed internships — particularly those who are enthusiastic about their work, says Dr. Antoine Moss, author of “Learn to Intern, CEO Style.”
“We live in a society where good isn’t good enough anymore,” Moss said to a crowd of more than 50 students at Valencia’s East Campus on Tuesday. “You’ve been told that all you have to do is get a college degree and do well and you’ll get a job in corporate America. You’ve been sold this dream, but it’s not true anymore.”
Instead, he said, hiring managers are looking for college students who are enthusiastic, knowledgeable — and have some experience.
To get that experience, he suggests that students attend career and internship workshops at college and get to know your college’s career services staff, who can help them land internships and jobs. Find mentors in the field you’re interested in, he said, by introducing yourself at events. Read the biographies of successful people. .
Moss, who’s 28, now works as a transportation management specialist at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, but he started applying for internships when he was in high school. Encouraged by a teacher, he applied for a summer internship with the American Civil Liberties Union in Cleveland. He didn’t get the internship the first time applied, but the next year, he tried again and was awarded a paying internship.
After his freshman year of college at Baldwin Wallace College in Ohio, Moss applied for another internship, this time in his career field of law enforcement — as a park ranger for the Cleveland Metroparks law enforcement division. He also interned in Washington, D.C., with an Ohio congresswoman, which he used to land another internship, this time with the FBI. He also found internships with Cleveland State University and NASA.
“Don’t just apply to one internship, apply to many,” he said. “You have to do as many internships as you can.”
To find internships, he suggests telling family members, friends and school representatives that you’re looking for an internship. If you have some organizations or fields in mind, go to the library and research leads. If you find a company you want to intern with or work for, contact someone in the company and ask if they have time for a brief “informational interview,” with questions such as, “What is your typical day like? What education do I need to get into this field? How can I work for this company in five years?”
After you’ve landed an internship, remember this rules:
- Dress like a professional. It exudes confidence.
- Don’t assume you can’t do much because you’re “only an intern.” Ask about helping on projects, learn as much as you can about the company and pride yourself on being an excellent intern.
- Set goals to meet senior managers and executives and ask how they became leaders.
Moss earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, along with a minor in psychology, from Baldwin Wallace in 2005. He completed his master’s degree in 2007 and this year, received his doctoral degree in urban studies and public affairs from Cleveland State University.
“There’s an art and a science to internships,” Moss said before signing copies of his book for students.
Meeting people and staying connected to your mentors is important, but he warned that students should be prepared to work hard. “The only place where success comes before work,” he noted, “is in the dictionary.”