As a student, I am always on the lookout for internships in my field. Internships are the best way to get real work experience before graduation and they can help you build an impressive resume in an economic slump. Although some internships are unpaid, the experience and knowledge you receive increases your chances of getting a paid internship, or job, the next time. Not to mention the skills you are mastering will give you the upper-hand in class. Many companies offer higher salaries for people with experience, and yes, internship experience counts.
Internships are an excellent way to “get your foot in the door” (aws.org) with companies you want to work for. The AWS internship web page, http://www.aws.org/w/a/membership/intern.html , says that “many companies consider their internship programs the most effective way to recruit new candidates for full-time permanent positions.” Internship experience allows you to show your potential employer your welding skills, work ethic, and ability to communicate and work well with others—all traits employers look for when interviewing job candidates.
How do I find an internship?
A great place to look for internships is right in your college. Ask your teachers and advisors about internships. Teachers are a great resource as they have real-world experience and contacts in the field. Your college may even have an internship advisor who will be able to help place you in an internship. Find out what specific skills you need for an internship and be sure to take those classes first. Finally, ask your classmates, family, neighbors, roommates, and anyone else you can think of about internships. You never know who may have a hot lead.
Remember that getting an internship is like getting a job. Be prepared to contact companies and update your resume. You may even have to interview for the position. Also, get to know your classmates and keep in touch. They will be your fellow professionals, and therefore a great resource to you, in the future.
Other places to look for internships are on the internet. Many schools have an online job board. Check it often for opportunities.
Another place to look is on the AWS website. From the homepage of the American Welding Society (aws.org) website hover over the “Careers” tab drop-down menu and click on “internships.” This site, http://www.aws.org/w/a/membership/intern.html , has links to the AWS internship list, and the AWS welding job finder (although, unfortunately, there are currently no internships listed).
What kind of internship should I look for?
Look for opportunities in the field you want to specialize in. This experience may help you decide if that is what you would like to keep doing. An internship may also give you the chance to explore an area of welding you have not tried before.
For more information about different careers in welding go to http://www.careersinwelding.com/ . This site has a wealth of information about different welding careers. Good luck!