Starting Your New Career
You aced that last exam, waltzed across the stage in your cap and gown, and you’re eager to start your career. The only problem: you’re about to dive into the uncertain abyss that is post-grad life and the only certainty, is that your diploma will arrive in 6-8 weeks.
There are few crossroads in life more daunting than the transition period from college to career. Especially when you've been aggressively applying to jobs but haven’t landed a full-time gig yet. As the days pass by, you begin to consider alternative options.
- Head back to school for a graduate degree
- Explore yourself and the world with a gap year
- Settle for a position outside your field
All those options present a compelling list of pros and cons. A few more years in the classroom could provide the knowledge and skills necessary to stand out. Experiencing different cultures through travel might help you discover your true purpose. At worst, a job outside your field of study will pay the bills.
What if you could bolster your knowledge and skill-set without tacking on additional student debt? What if you could accomplish this by contributing to an actual organization in the field?
Not included on that list, and often overlooked, are post-grad internships. While it may feel like a setback or stalled progress, an internship after graduation allows you to:
- Build your skillset and resume by gaining experience in the field
- Get a glimpse of a day-in the life with a prospective employer and pick the brains of successful industry experts
- Change to a career path you're passionate about
So, erase the negative stigma associated with the label 'intern' and read on to learn why I left a full-time gig for an internship at Seer!
My flight path to a Seer internship
I was in this nerve-wracking position not long ago, where I felt the burden of landing a job after college bear down on my shoulders daily. Upon receiving my first job offer (several months after graduation), I packed my bags and relocated eight hours south, in the hopes of putting my media production degree to the test.
Removed from Philadelphia, my nest for 22 years, I came to the swift realization that I wasn't fulfilled. I thought all the concerns would dissipate with my career on track. Instead, I faced the burning desire to fly back to Philly and shift my career path to digital marketing.
Aware that my resume lacked any substantial digital marketing experience, I set out to get hands-on exposure. I took the one aspect of my job that I loved - writing - and freelanced my way into a respectable portfolio (or so I thought).
Applying for entry-level content writing jobs, I was often met with the dreaded 3-5 years experience requirement. Less than one year out of school, how could I already be expected to have extensive experience in the field?
Rejection after rejection, I prowled the internet for plausible options. I found myself contemplating the aforementioned list. Grad school, random job to pay the bills, freelance until I figure it out. That is, until I stumbled upon Seer Interactive while searching for the top agencies in Philadelphia.
The only term I was familiar with at Seer was SEO -which, at the time, was a vast and complex concept that I hadn’t fully grasped yet. I was aware of SEO from my freelance writing, so I decided to do a deep-dive into Seer’s job opportunities. That's where I first discovered the Seer Digital Marketing Internship program.
Everything about the posting intrigued me and, most importantly, it was open to non-students. Without hesitation, I applied. Two video interviews later and I received an offer.
Ready to channel my inner Robert De Niro as a late-in-life intern in 'The Intern', I officially joined the Seer team. My internship came to an end and I’m happy to say that the Seer intern program paved my path for a career in digital marketing.
What Are the Advantages of a Post-Grad Internship?
If you’re sitting at home wondering how to gain work experience after graduation, listen up. There are countless reasons to consider internships as an alternative to graduate school or ditching your passion in order to pay the bills.
Build Your Skillset & Resume through On-The-Job Experience
The sheer wealth of knowledge at your disposal through post-grad internships is invaluable. Training sessions and ‘real-world’ projects provide more useful information than any textbook.
Once you're acclimated and dive into the work, your skillset grows exponentially. All the information from training clicks when you apply it to your work. As your list of accomplishments grows, so does your confidence. You become willing to own tasks start to finish, preparing yourself for full-time life.
Not only do you solidify the hard skills required to score an interview, but you also build soft skills and a tangible portfolio. Together, they build an ironclad resume and a compelling case for the company to hire you full-time, upon the completion of your internship.
Tip: Most internships are part-time and you can use this to your advantage. When you're in the office, you get to work hands-on with your team and mentors.
- In your free time, read and study up on industry-relevant information. You maximize your time and the extra effort pays off when you're back with the team.
Pick the Brain of Successful Industry Professionals
What if you were applying for a job at a company and they offered you the chance to work alongside your prospective team for a few months, prior to accepting the role? Well, that’s exactly how you should view an internship after college - an opportunity to work side-by-side with experienced industry professionals and potential colleagues.
There's no better way to grow than to learn from the best. Make sure you come prepared with quality questions and meet them half-way. Don’t put the burden of getting you trained up entirely on your employer. Leverage your co-workers strategically to maximize the ROI for the internship. Shadow them on projects and pay attention to their strategic methods. Take their years of experience and use that as the foundation for you to build off of.
Along with gaining their professional insight, you can take some of the workload off their plate. Your initiative will stand out and they will appreciate your contribution to the company.
At the end of the day, whether you remain with the company or not, you'll build meaningful relationships. These can help with continued progress if you go full-time. You never know what the future holds either -- even if you don’t want to continue into a full-time role with your current employer, the digital community is close-knit and one of your co-workers could take a job at your ‘dream-company’ someday. That’s why it’s crucial for you to capitalize on this unique opportunity and establish strong working relationships that you can call upon in the future.
Change Your Career Path Without Breaking the Bank
There are few realizations more disheartening than determining that you aren’t in the right line of work. Whether you spent four years studying and lost interest, or ten years working and want a change, that jump can be daunting.
There are plenty of options out there, from grad school to online courses, few of which come free of charge. While it’s always smart to research your options, it's senseless to invest thousands of dollars in going back to school if you aren't 100% certain where your heart lies.
An internship after college allows you to break into a new industry -- without breaking the bank. You don't have to be a subject expert as an intern and your employer understands that you’re still very much in the learning phase. Tons of companies offer paid internships to recent grads specifically because they’ll be eligible to start full-time employment immediately following the internship if everything works out. What's better than getting paid to learn?
The part-time hours of an internship provide the freedom to explore other pathways while still paying the bills. Outside of your internship hours, you can work a part-time gig, freelance, or search for relevant learning opportunities within your field.
Even if you’re juggling bartending (or freelance video gigs like I did) on the weekends with an internship during the week, it should be worth the temporary schedule insanity in order to gain meaningful hands-on experiences with a prospective employer.
Tip: Don’t forget to showcase all the amazing work you’ve been doing during your downtime outside the internship -- that speaks volumes in an interview.
Find the Right Internship Program
Not all internships are created equal. If you're doing an internship after college, you need to identify the best option for long-term success. While most will be beneficial, you don't want to waste time in the wrong fit.
What should you look for in a post-grad internship?
- A company that prepares interns for a transition to full-time
- Somewhere that exposes you to similar challenges you’ll encounter on the job and mimics a-day-in-the-life in the industry
- An environment where current employees are open and excited to help you grow
A Storybook Ending
After 12 weeks of listening, learning, and actively contributing, I landed a full-time position as an SEO associate at Seer! Seer’s Internship Program was a comprehensive crash-course in Digital Marketing and I’m still astounded by how much ‘real-world’ SEO and PPC experience I gained in a matter of 12 short weeks.
If you're lost and looking for a way to gain work experience after graduation, consider an internship. If you're looking to break into digital marketing, take a look at the Seer Interactive Internship program!