Unfortunately, the world requires internships and it’s not fair, but I have yet to give a realistic way to get around that. So to conclude my internship series, here are my top 5 tips for getting the experience of an internship without actually being someone’s bitch:

  1. Meet people. I already talk a little about how networking is a big plus regarding internships, but this is easy to do by joining professional organizations, using social media, contacting potential ‘mentors’ (alumni offices are awesome for this exact purpose) and abusing any and all connections.
  2. Freelance. A lot of young people don’t even think of this as an option because it’s something more seasoned professional do, but getting freelance work through friends, using Craigslist and contacting your dream company directly puts the big names on your resume, generates contacts and builds up an impressive portfolio (which is always handy).
  3. Use social media to get your name out there and establish yourself in the desired professional community. This entire blog is a result of me getting a job after college, where I used Twitter, Facebook and said blog to get people talking. This resulted in a full time job, but also a ton of freelance work (NY Times, HarperCollins and various authors).
  4. Temp. Interns are really just glorified assistants, so might as well get paid for the work you’d be doing anyway. Many temp agencies can set you up with part-time gigs in the field of your choice and being a paid employee of a company is always more impressive than being an intern. This also gets around not having the ‘mandatory’ internship on your resume.
  5. Become an expert. Read the top publications in your field, get books, watch webinars, make friends with bloggers – not only does this create contacts and integrates you into the professional community, but slowly establishes you as an expert.