Editor’s Note: Kardell Thornhill, Marketing alumni, ’14, contributed to this blog.
With a still competitive and difficult job market, college students are turning to internships to give them a leg up on landing a full-time job after graduation. Why? Because internships provide students with hands-on work experience, opportunities to impress their employers and the possibility of a full-time job offer.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) recently published the results of their 2014 survey showing that 73 percent of large companies (100 employees or more) hire interns for the purpose of finding full-time employees and 73 percent of small companies hire interns for part-time help with projects. Although it often takes more effort to find a paid internship, the extra effort is worth it in the end.
I sat down with Kardell Thornill, who recently earned his Marketing Degree from Post University, and discussed a paid internship he completed with Target that led to a full-time job upon graduation.
Rigali: Why did you decide to look for an internship?
Thornhill: I always had an internship throughout my high school career and some of college. I knew that once my junior/senior years started to come around an internship would help me land a job offer. Also, if it didn’t lead to a job offer it would give me real-life work experience to put on my resume.
There are many avenues for finding internships for Post University students. You can begin your search on the Career Services website and search Careers by Major , using “internship” as one of the keywords to search. You can also go to internship search engines located on the website , or visit the Career Services Facebook page.
Rigali: How did you find this internship?
Thornhill: I found this internship through INROADS. This organization helps college-level students get paired with top companies in order to have a successful internship experience and be compensated for it as well. After interviewing with several other companies, my final interview was with Target and that is where I found my match.
According to the Infographic survey, potential employees evaluate candidates primarily on their interview performance. Following that, employers are looking at relevant internship experience, high academic performance, strong resume/cover letter, recommendations/references, and attendance at preferred schools.
Rigali: How did your interview go?
Thornhill: The interview process was a very intense process. I was first prepped by my INROADS advisor on how to answer questions, what to speak on and how to present myself in a confident, professional manner. The next step was an over-the-phone interview where it was decided that I would go on to an in-person interview. This was a more in-depth interview where I was asked situational questions, things on my resume such as my classes and overall community involvement. This is where it was evident that employers are looking for an involved student in both academics and extracurricular activities.
Although most internships require interns to perform some administrative tasks, this should not comprise more than 30 percent of the internship duties. Working on real projects related to a student’s major and working individually and collaboratively as a member of a team, are key components to all internships.
Rigali: What did you do during your internship?
Thornhill: During my internship, I was an Executive Team Lead for 10 weeks in a Target store. This means I was a manager that was in charge of a section in the store such as guest services or clothing. My mentor and I managed the clothing department, also referred to as the “soft lines department”. I had a team of ten to fifteen individuals I was responsible for and had to interact with on a daily basis. I also had to engage our daily guests that entered our store.
One of the major keys in completing an internship is the opportunity to transition into a full-time employee. The 2014 NACE Survey reported that the conversion rate for internships into full-time positions was 51.2 percent.
Rigali: How is it that your company offered you a full time job after graduation?
Thornhill: At the end of my 10 weeks I met with the district manager, my store manager and the campus recruiter to talk about my experience in my store, my impact and what I learned. I explained how I grew throughout my 10 weeks and adapted to the Target culture to become an effective leader. Two weeks after that I received a call from the campus recruiter and was extended a full-time job offer once I graduated. I accepted and look forward to starting in the summer.
While there are many benefits to completing an internship, the two major aspects are the ability to turn it into a full-time job and the addition of a strong business reference.
Rigali: What advice would you offer other college students regarding internships?
Thornhill: I would tell other students that internships are very important. The earlier you start the easier it will be to make a successful transition from college to the work environment. Even if the internships are unpaid it is still a great opportunity to get work experience and something to include on your resume. Also companies like INROADS are very helpful in doing the leg work of finding top corporate companies that are looking for college interns.
Employer-sponsored internships are on the rise. Based on the Infographic survey, 56 percent of companies plan to hire more interns in 2014 than the previous year. Start planning now for your internship experience by preparing a winning resume and talking with your Career Services office!