Easy Columbus: Columbus internships

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

It seems counterintuitive since the rest of the job market's so lousy, but landing an internship these days might be easier than you'd expect. Especially an unpaid one.

"Many companies are relying more on interns than in years past because they're seen as cheap labor," said Susan Merryman, vice president of marketing and communication for the Columbus Chamber of Commerce.

After having to lay off so many full-time workers, lots of companies are looking for help anywhere they can find it. For students interested in the communications, finance and accounting fields, especially, internship opportunities are plentiful for those who get their resumes out there.

The only problem is, many students don't know where to start when it comes to finding these opportunities.

"They frequently don't start looking far enough ahead, they are unsure what kind of experience they want and are unfamiliar with the resources they need," said Meg Barkhymer, a career planner with Otterbein College.

One place to start the search for opportunities - whether it's paid or unpaid, part-time or full-time - is ColumbusInternships.com, a Columbus Chamber-created site accessible through EasyColumbus.com. Here, students can research tips on putting together a resume and cover letter, and sign up for assistance in locating the internship they're looking for.

"College career services workers are offering as much help as they can, but a lot of times they appreciate any help we can offer them," said Merryman.

Barkhymer recommends seeking positions with larger companies first, "because they usually have traditional internship programs set up."

Tips for turning your internship into a permanent position:

-Learn as much on the job as you can. Ask to shadow employees in every area of the business. Even if you don't land a permanent position with this company, the knowledge you gain will give you a step up when applying for jobs in the future.

-Networking is crucial. Meet as many people as you can, because anyone who's been in the business for a while will have contacts at other companies. So even if there aren't openings at the company where you're interning, they may be able to point you in the right direction for a job after your internship.

-Take initiative. If there's something you want to be doing but aren't being given the chance, ask. Showing that you want to learn more will leave a big impression on your employer.

-Stay organized. Longtime employees don't usually give interns the benefit of the doubt, so show them you mean business. Staying on top of things shows that you're a team player and are serious enough about this job to be a benefit to the company.

-Experience, experience, experience. Take any job that your colleagues ask for your help with and do it to the best of your ability. Even if it seems useless now, any experience you get will eventually help you in your chosen field.

Sources: Susan Merryman, ColumbusInternships.com

Evan Tackett is a senior journalism major at Otterbein College.