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Q&A: Post-Graduate Internships

Read through this Q&A on post graduate internships for some great advice on work life after college.

Peter Vogt, Monstertrak Career Coach

March 12, 2009

Q&A: Post-Graduate Internships

I made the big mistake of not getting an internship during college. What do I do now? Is it possible to get an internship after graduation and what are the issues and dilemmas involved? It's really hard to get an entry-level position in management consulting without work experience.

You've got a few options for obtaining experience:

One would be to investigate what types of "management training" programs are available to you. These programs are geared toward recent grads with little or no experience and are designed to provide you with the necessary knowledge and skills to be successful within an organization.

A second option is obtaining an internship in your field. The downside is that it may not provide a substantial income, if one at all. However, there is the possibility that the organization might hire you after your internship. Before you accept an internship, find out how often interns are offered full-time positions.

A third option would be to find a temporary employment agency that specializes in your particular career field. The advantage to this option is that you will earn money while getting broad exposure to a variety of organizations and industries. Be aware, though, that some temp agencies and client companies require a specific time commitment to them before you can become a full-time employee.

I'm a recent college graduate. I was offered an internship with a well-known organization that would provide me with the opportunity to gain invaluable work experience. The downside is the pay...I would only make $13,200/year! On the other hand, the job market is so slow right now that I'm afraid to pass this up. What should I do? Is pay negotiable for an internship?

Given the tight job market and your interest in this organization, it sounds like you have a great opportunity to get some quality experience. Internships are becoming a useful tool for organizations to evaluate talent and assist with their recruiting needs. I would encourage you to talk with the company about their flexibility regarding salary and what, if any, your chances are of becoming a full-time employee with them after your internship is completed. Based on that conversation, you'll have a better idea of what to do.

If you choose to negotiate your stipend, I'd encourage you to have specific reasons outlined for them as to why you're worth it. You're going to have to sell yourself and your skill set.

I graduated from college six months ago, but I never did an internship because I had no idea what I wanted to do. I now think that I would like to work for a study abroad organization. Is it too late to convince a company to let me intern with them? I inquired several times about internships my senior year and got responses like "An internship? In your senior year?"

It's NEVER too late to have an internship in order to gain experience in your field of interest. Many recent (and not-so-recent) college graduates arrange their own internships after graduation for the very purpose you have. It may not be called an "internship" -- you might simply need to volunteer.

When you approach organizations, don't ask only about internships. Let them know that you're looking for experience of any kind, whether it's through an internship or on a volunteer basis.

Once you're there, volunteer to work on projects or long-term assignments with more responsibility. Chances are it might turn into a real internship. If not, you'll be able to include your volunteer experience on a resume.

Also look into working on a freelance or contract basis with organizations in your field, particularly non- profits. Nonprofit organizations often rely on volunteers to accomplish organizational goals.

These questions were compiled from message boards at Check out MonsterTrak for additional tips and job listings.

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