The power of internships…

The power of internships…for marketing professionals at least.

Who would have thought that getting an internship while in college would make all the difference in the road you would travel in your career.  I was having dinner with a guy I went to college with last night, we are both in the marketing field and have been job searching this past year for positions in a CPG/Food Service company, and the topic of job searching inevitably came up. It turns out that he’s also finding out many of the same things that I have been hearing…”Your resume looks great, and we’d love to bring you in for an interview but you have no prior CPG/Food Service experience.  If you would have at least had an internship at a CPG/Food Service company while in school that would have helped you out.”  WHY DIDN’T ANYONE TELL ME THAT WHEN I WAS IN SCHOOL?? During my college days I had a full time job, was making great money for a college student and work was helping fund my school costs.  No one ever mentioned getting an internship to me or the benefits of an internship so I never pursued it.  Now I have been out of college for a few years, have relevant work experience in my industry but am still finding it hard to travel the career path that I always imagined.  It’s too late to go back and start an internship to get the experience that CPG/Food Service companies are looking for, so where does that leave me?

I still have a lot of time left in the workforce and would like to get back on track with my vision of my career. Anyone have suggestions of things that I can begin working on now (seminars, programs to learn, positions to apply for that are considered more “entry level” , etc.) that will give me the experience/qualifications that CPG/Food Service companies are looking for?

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One Response to The power of internships…

  1. Hi Kim,

    How have you been? I can totally relate…I too am struggling with lack of work experience. For many companies work experience is valued the most. More than education. It is valued the most because it proves to the employer that you can do the job you are applying for. Past performance is an indicator of future performance. You have a proven track record. I think many companies are hesitant to hire someone that they dont feel strongly about. If a candidate turns out to be not well suited for the job, the company can loose a lot of money which they would probably want to avoid especially in such a uncertian economy.

    To some employers, great attitude and willingness to help out where needed are valued…sometimes even more so than experience. I think it really depends on each individual company and what they are looking for for someone within the position and depends on what the company values.

    You might ask yourself what types of skills and qualities are they looking for at CPG Food Service? What are they looking for in that specific position that you would like to get at CPG Food Serivce? And think about your own work experience and where you might have gained the skills, abilities and knowledge that they are looking for in the position at CPG Food Service. Think about your transferable skills (those skills that you have that can be used in many different industries or positions) such as communication skills, computer skills, organizational skills, these are all transferable skills and can be used in different type of positions.
    Its all about presenting these skills well in an interview, showing the employer how you can add value to their organization along with a positive confident attitude.

    As for work experience that is specific to a job (non transferable skills). Try to think of creative ways to get this experience….by volunteering, getting involved with an Association for Marketing and volunteering with them. Asking your current employer if they have an opportunity for you to learn a skill or software program or job duty. Reach out to other professionals through networking or Linkedin who may have a specific skills, or knowledge that you are looking for. They may be able to help you learn more about it or give you more advice about that specific Marketing skill, or program or knowledge.

    As for internships…they are great for gaining experience. While in college and during this summer, I did some internships. First one was in college for computers and more recently, an HR internship for a staffing agency. I am currently searching and interviewing for Human Resource Internships. And its tough…there is competition even at the Internship level and most of the internships that I have been finding online have been UN Paid. Its tough for a working professional who already has work expeirence to stop working or take a pay cut just to get work experience in another area. I totally agree with you. If you have the support of other people, friends, family, boyfriend…they can help you reach your goals. The only way I could do the internship this summer and volunteer as a Job Mentor was by having my parents help financially support me.
    Ask for help from your support network if you can.

    Another important aspect of internships is that most of them are a semester long (6 months). Which is not equal to any amount of job experience that an employer might ask for. You would have to complete a few different internships to really get the amount of work experience that an employer is looking for. So, an intership helps, but it does not make up for the amount of experience that an employer would be looking for.

    So, measure your existing skills, abilities and knowledge including transferable skills, work on presenting those skills to the employer in a way that will get you the position you want, ask for help from other professionals, get help from your support network, seek existing opportunities where you work, and look for volunteer opportunities where you might be able to gain those skills or meet professionals who might be able to help you get those skills.

    If you want to talk about this more…I’d be happy to talk with you…send me an email or call me. I’ve been there…I know how tough it can be 🙂

    Hope this explaination helps…Good Luck!!

    Danielle Sikorski

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