College students looking to secure a job when they graduate should consider adding an internship to their schedules this fall.
A recent survey by Robert Half Technology revealed that nearly 80 percent of chief information officers said internships are an important consideration when hiring new graduates. Just 13 percent viewed them as unimportant.
"Employers expect new hires to contribute right away, and experience gained through internships can help recent graduates hit the ground running," said John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology.
New graduates should study the job descriptions of the positions they're applying for and highlight the relevant skills they've gained through internships or volunteer work, Reed said.
"Point out the specifics of the projects you worked on and the skills you developed while interning for an organization," he said.
Robert Half Technology offers several tips for those looking to ace their internship:
- Act the part: Rather than thinking of yourself as "just an intern," adopt the mind-set of a full-time employee. Get off to a strong start by clarifying core duties, priorities and goals with your supervisor early on.
- Be upbeat: Accept assignments with enthusiasm, even when you're asked to tackle less-than-glamorous tasks. Ask for feedback on your performance, and show that you can take direction, collaborate effectively with others and respond well to constructive criticism.
- Sweat the details: Small actions can have a big impact on the impression you make. For example, if you're tethered to your smartphone, you could be perceived as distracted and disengaged. Running habitually late, even by only a few minutes, could signal that you're not taking the internship seriously.
- Network: Use your time on-site to forge new business relationships. You want to impress your direct supervisor and colleagues in order to leave with strong references. Go to lunch with co-workers, attend company events and strike up conversations at the watercooler.
- Say thanks: Write thank-you notes to those who helped or mentored you during your internship and commit to staying in touch.
The study was based on surveys of 1,400 CIOs from a random sample of U.S. companies with 100 or more employees.