Degree programs also give IT jobseekers the opportunity to take part in internships and cooperative educations. "Internships and co-ops are the most common ways that students gather work experience," says Luckenbaugh. "And [they are] certainly very highly rated by employers."
These programs allow a potential IT worker to prove she or he can add value to a company. This is invaluable to employers at both non-IT companies and at IT firms. "They're looking for people with demonstrated experience and success," says Brad Smith, vice-president of research of Kennedy Information/Consultant Magazine.
"As a matter of fact, employers not only want to see people with this kind of experience, but they also go to their [own internship and co-op] programs to bring in new hires," says Luckenbaugh. "So, many employers will look to their internship program or co-op program& and they'll try to convert those people that they feel are good conversions into full-time employees. They'll convert those people, and then they'll go out and they'll do their recruiting at the college campuses. So, they're extremely important."
In order to obtain an internship, the student should search for good and suitable internship programs. There are many places to search for internships online, but any university career services office should have updated, local internship lists. The student should formulate lists of companies with good internships, noting application deadlines and prerequisite requirements. Then, he or she should research the companies with suitable internships. While large technology companies do offer internship programs, most IT work is still in non-tech companies. Thus, the student should also expect to find a large number of IT internships at non-IT companies.
The student should also bring his or her resume to a guidance counselor or to faculty (at appropriate, IT-related departments) in charge of internships. Due to labor laws, most internship programs will only take students who receive college credit for their internships. The student should show the faculty a structured plan and learning objectives for the internship. Then, the faculty will decide if the student should be awarded college credit for the internship. Once credit is offered, the student and staff can work together on the resume, cover letter, and interview practice.
Students who want to get an internship should show their faculty a scholastic aptitude, an interest in learning new things, and good communication skills. Computer experience and having taken technology classes help as well.
During an internship, students should try to get to know the hiring managers and find out more about the company and its products, in addition to learning about the business and the technology. Doing so will give students an advantage when they want to finally turn the internship into a job.