Certified financial planner Wes Moss provides personal finance advice and accessible investment strategies. His guest post appears here weekly.
Earning a college degree has long been something of a golden ticket, a credential that helped ensure a person’s employment and advancement prospects — but no more. College graduates are now struggling with limited job prospects and low starting pay once associated more with non-college-grads.
My advice to young people: Make your own luck. One way to do this is by taking an internship. It’s hardly an original idea, but too many interns still don’t understand how to make the most of what can be a life-changing experience. Here are some suggestions:
Do what you (might) love: Passion is key to success in any field. There are no real estate superstars who hate looking at houses; no rocket scientists who struggle with math.Choose an internship that intrigues or excites you.
Work like you make crazy cash: An internship is an opportunity to impress people who can help advance your career. The best way to do this is to generate results with hustle, resourcefulness and dedication. Come early, stay late. Find the answer in the place no one thought to look. Provide three pages of background when the boss said one or two would be “OK.” And for goodness sake, dress like the professionals you hope to join one day.
Build a network: A good internship offers access to any number of interesting and potentially useful people. Smart interns take advantage of this by working to add these contacts – co-workers, clients, vendors – to their professional network. They take initiative by introducing themselves and don’t hesitate to ask for career advice where appropriate. This requires confidence and effort, but the potential payoff is huge. A couple practical tips: Establish a profile on LinkedIn or create a personal business card with contact information — great vehicles through which to stay in touch with other professionals.
Get started: Inertia is a powerful force. Any body at rest will keep resting until force is applied. The benefits listed above await the young person who can shake his funk, turn off the video console and get into the game. Step One: Break the project down into a series of tasks and set a target date for starting an internship — a low-paying job that could become an amazing career.
Just ask National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell. His first job out of college? Administrative intern at the NFL.
What other suggestions would you give to potential interns?
– By Wes Moss, for Atlanta Bargain Hunter