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There is no better case for the value of internships than the rate at which they lead to full-time jobs. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, approximately 60 percent of 2012 college graduates who held paid internships received at least one job offer. Today, I join that group.

I began a full-time, paid internship in September with Indiana INTERNnet, a program managed by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. This was my second post-graduate internship, following three months spent at the Indiana State Fair. I’ll admit that even I – a huge advocate for internships – was a little leery of doing a second post-graduate internship.

One of our mantras at Indiana INTERNnet is “Intern Today, Employee Tomorrow.” We say it because it’s often true.

After about two months into my internship with Indiana INTERNnet, I was offered a full-time job with the Indiana Chamber as an assistant to the Chamber Foundation, Ready Indiana and Indiana INTERNnet. It’s really exciting because this is a great job with a great organization! And this shows that internships truly are a wise investment.

Sure, my post-graduate path was a little unconventional, but these days, anything “conventional” in the job search market is changing or disappearing. Some of my classmates from Franklin College began working two weeks after graduation. Some completed an internship. Some went on to grad school. Some are still looking for work. I graduated with about 300 people, so there were about 300 different paths paved from campus that day into the “real world.”

This story has several lessons.

  1. Don’t give up. If at first you don’t succeed, try again. I learned quickly that jobs don’t fall out of the sky and land neatly in your lap. You have to look in places you wouldn’t think to look and you have to utilize your network.
  2. Be a realist when it comes to your post-graduate expectations. Did I expect to be an intern for six more months after I had my diploma? Absolutely not. But I did it, and it worked. Blaze a path that can work for you.
  3. Treat your internships like you would treat a full-time job. Not only is it just good professional practice, but if your supervisors view you as an employee, it can increase the chances of them making you one.
  4. You CAN do it! There are jobs out there. You may have to be scrappy in order to find one, but the good news is it can be done. And it’s incredibly satisfying when it works out!
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