Job seeker success story: How I used an internship to make a career transition

Photo credit: Keith Sherwood, Shutterstock
Photo credit: Keith Sherwood, Shutterstock

I have some bittersweet news to share with you, our loyal Idealist readers. After nearly six months working as the social media and editorial intern, I am moving on to a full-time position. I will start as the digital marketing coordinator for the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum later this month, and I found the job on Idealist!

As we know, I took on this internship as one way to transition from a career as a business journalist into a nonprofit digital marketing professional. Other times, internships can serve as a transition from college life into full-time work or a way to gain experience in a field you aren’t familiar with. No matter your reasons for taking on an internship, here’s how I worked to leverage this position as I searched for full-time jobs.

I made the most of my internship. The beauty of being an intern is that you aren’t expected to know it all. Ask questions. Chip in and help out. Sit in on meetings when you can. Get to know your colleagues. By learning all you can during this stage, it will help you in your next position.

Also, be sure to work on some projects that you can showcase when searching for your next job. This is an area where a career journal could help. Have a list of the accomplishments you achieved while interning, and then talk them up in your cover letters and interviews in the future.

I started searching for jobs with similar skills/requirements/descriptions. At first, I was searching on Idealist for any nonprofit jobs in New York City, which, as you can imagine, doesn’t really narrow down anything. But once I focused in on social media positions, and finding job openings that had similar skills and would include similar tasks and responsibilities as my internship, it was much better.

By focusing in on fewer jobs, I was able to create new cover letters and resumes for each position, and include relevant information about be and the work that I was doing at Idealist, which fit in nicely with who they were looking for.

I talked up my intern work during the process. For my particular situation, my past jobs have some relevance to my current work (writing skills are necessary for many jobs), but during the interview, I tried to focus more on what I had learned at the internship and my experiences there. I was able to talk about how Idealist is working to engage more with followers and supporters on LinkedIn and the social media work we were doing around our state-by-state coverage.

Especially if the job you are applying for is similar to your internship, this can be a huge help as you can already demonstrate experience in this field or position.

I added other activities besides the internship. In addition to my internship with Idealist, I have been freelance writing for the past six months or so. When I could, I worked to interview nonprofit founders and executive directors, to learn more about the sector. I also took a continuing studies class on nonprofits and technology. All of this other work not only added to my experience and skill set , but it also allowed me to show that my interest in nonprofits and social media was genuine and that I was serious about this career transition.

So as I say good-bye, what advice do you have about making the transition from internship to full-time job? What insights would you add?

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