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With summer fast approaching and college classes coming to an end, you might be gearing up for a vacation in Hawaii or a backpacking trip to Peru, but what you really should do is start looking for a summer internship.

Internships are jobs that you often work for free or minimum wage, or if you’re lucky, decent bucks.

Whatever the pay scale you should jump at the chance to work for a senator, a magazine editor or a movie producer, just so you can get your foot in the door.

Katie Beatty, a graduate of Carlsbad High School, 2009 spent her senior year of college at UCSB interning for the Clinton Foundation in New York City.

“It was the best time of my life,” Beatty said. “I couldn’t believe how much I loved it. I worked 10- and 12- hour days for not much money, and I lived with a relative in the city. After I graduated I contacted my bosses and they hired me right away.”

Beatty still works for the foundation and lives in New York. She makes a lot more than she did in 2009.

While many internships are all about ‘who you know,’ others are there just for the asking. Sometimes real jobs come out of summer internship, sometimes not. But the experience is worth more than minimum wage.

To land the job make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and hide some of the beer chugging photos you’ve posted on Facebook and Twitter. Forbes magazine recently reported that the recruitment software firm Bullhorn conducted a study and surveyed 1,848 staffing professionals about various recruiting trends, including their use of social media when searching for job candidates. Almost all of the respondents –98.2 percent – said they relied on some form of social media in 2012, up from 94 percent in 2011.

When searching, don’t rule out an organization just because you have never heard about them, and don’t assume that the company name indicates which majors they recruit.

Get to work and create a real résumé to get ahead of the other intern-wannabees. Ask the important people in your life for recommendations. Your mom doesn’t count.

There are websites such as interqueen.com, usajobs.gov/studentsandgrad, and idealist.org that can make your search easier. But make sure to apply for a lot of internships.

If Jimmy Carter was the president of the United States the last time you were in college, there are internships for you as well.

According to a study from the MetLife Foundation and Civic Ventures, a think tank that focuses on work and social purpose, 9 million people between the ages of 44 and 70 are currently in the midst of “encore careers”– begun later in life in areas that serve the public good, such as health care or education. That population is expected to grow.

AmeriCorps (americorp.gov) which is a great organization for Gen Y and younger to intern with, also has a division for Baby Boomers.

This organization that looks for people 55 and over was created during John F. Kennedy’s presidency. Senior Corps currently links more than 500,000 Americans to service opportunities. The website states that “contributions of skills, knowledge, and experience make a real difference to individuals, nonprofits, and faith-based and other community organizations throughout the United States.”

SeniorCorps (seniorcorps.gov) isn’t the only place mom and dad can look for internships. All internships are tough to land, but for the most part there shouldn’t be any age limitations.

Internships should be about learning how to do a certain job so that you can see if you’ll be a good fit after you graduate. Going for coffee for the entire office might be one of the job’s activities, but make sure it’s not the actual job.

Reach out to family and friends to see if they have internships for you or if they know someone who does. Offices of your college campus can also help out in the summer search.

Kelsey Riley, a graduate of Valhalla High School in El Cajon and a student in Vermont recently landed a coveted internship at Apple in Cupertino.

“This has been a dream of mine since I was little,” she said. “I get paid really well, and I am going to travel to China. I mean, I would do this for free but I don’t have to.”

So stop dreaming about hanging out with your friends at the beach, and start looking for an internship. The beach will be there next year but the opportunity for an internship might not.

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Comments

Fred Williams April 12, 2013 @ 3:08 a.m.

I disagree strongly with this lousy advice. Working for free is an option only for those whose families have enough money to support them. For the rest of the population, this isn't an "internship"...it's just free labor.

By all means young people should volunteer for causes dear to their hearts.

But if the choice is between working for free and seeing another part of the world, then they should ignore your advice and get on a plane. They're going to work the rest of their lives paying off the debts our society has foisted on them, and this may be their only chance to do something other than work, work, work until they are dead.

Such a person is much better off getting exposure to other cultures, learning to use another language, and gaining some broader experiences including how the rest of the world operates...which means they might be exposed to societies that don't cynically exploit the young by expecting them to work for free.

Who knows? They might even find out that USA#1 is a lie, and that other countries treat their citizens as people, rather than labor to be exploited by the callous, which is confusingly condoned in this article that purports to be giving career advice.

An internship is rarely a path to a good job...most often it's cynical exploitation of the naive...you're contributing to that exploitation with this article.

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