Francine Fabricant | CAREER COUNSELOR
Learn About Internships

CCS_authors | 09 January 2013 | no comments

You’ve probably been told numerous times that you need to have an internship. In the Chapter 5: Explore of Creating Career Success, we discuss real-world career exploration, learning by doing, and the benefits of experiential learning.

An internship is the most common way to “learn by doing,” and similar programs may be referred to as externships or cooperative programs. There are also many other ways to learn on the job and from people in the workforce, such as job shadowing, site visits, employer visits to campus, part-time work, volunteer work, temporary work, and informational interviewing.

What is an internship?

An internship is a work experience that has a learning component. You—the intern—get hands-on experience as you contribute to the success of the business or organization. Ideally, internships are for those who lack professional experience, but are eager to explore a field while building skills, experience, and references. They can be paid or unpaid, and there are legal requirements employers must follow to ensure that interns are learning and not simply engaged in work tasks for which they are not being properly compensated. (For more information, visit the website for the National Association for Colleges and Employers.)

Why is it important to intern?

Perhaps most importantly, it will help test your beliefs about your career choice. If you think you want to be an accountant because you are good at math, an accounting internship is a chance to get to know the work environment, people, and culture. Internships also helps you develop critical skills, including specific job-related skills and professional skills that prepare you to manage yourself in the workplace. Finally, you may meet people at an internship who can serve as mentors, advisors, and advocates. Developing workplace connections is essential for building your network and obtaining meaningful professional references.

Before we finish, let’s go ahead and address some of the many myths floating around about internships:

Myth #1: My internship will be interesting and challenging all the time.

No internship— or job for that matter—is going to be both interesting and challenging 100% of the time. Employers sometimes give interns tedious projects that may seem like grunt work but that allow you to become familiar with procedures, accounts and other important aspects of the work. Proving yourself with seemingly unimportant projects may lead to your supervisor trusting you with bigger and more important work. But on the other hand if all you are doing is making coffee, picking up your supervisor’s dry cleaning and making her doctor appointments, you may need to speak to your supervisor or human resources about the purpose and goals of your internship.

Myth #2: If I don’t intern, I can’t get a job.

For the most part you don’t have to intern to get a job, but in today’s super competitive job market you need to make sure you are as marketable as possible—and interning is a great way to do that. In some fields, such as publishing, it is very difficult to get a job without doing an internship first.

Myth #3: I will get hired after completing my internship.

Some students mistakenly expect that they will be hired after completing an internship. Maybe you know someone who received an offer this way, or you’ve seen a company advertise that a position can lead to an offer. While many companies do look to former interns when hiring, there are no guarantees of future employment. The main purpose of the internship is to explore a field and develop skills.

Be on the lookout for our next blog about internships where we will cover how to find a summer internship. The skills, experience, and connections you can build through internships are invaluable in your career development.

Are you interning now or planning to look for an internship? What do you hope to gain through your internship experience?


About The Authora

Francine Fabricant_headshotFrancine Fabricant is a career counselor and the lead author of Creating Career Success. She has an extraordinary passion for career development, and is a frequent speaker on career topics. She has worked at the Columbia University Center for Career Education and FIT’s Career Services. She received an MA and EdM from Teachers College, Columbia University and a BA cum laude from Barnard College, Columbia University. Visit her website at

Jennifer Miller_croppedJennifer Miller, MBA, MSED is an Associate Professor and Counselor in the Career and Internship Center at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) since 2001. She is very knowledgeable and passionate about sustainability and social media. In addition to counseling she taught Career Planning for several years and currently teaches internship courses on Career Exploration and Career Planning. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York and she has two masters degrees; one in Guidance and Counseling from Hunter College in New York City, and one in Business Administration from Binghamton University.

4 Networking Tips for the Holiday Season

CCS_authors | 29 November 2012 | no comments

With the holiday season here, there are more opportunities to meet up with friends and family, and these can be great networking opportunities for your developing career. Whether you’re looking for a job after graduation, an internship for next summer, or have some big questions about your career direction, networking is an invaluable resource.

Set your goals on getting to know the people around you, and taking steps to expand your network. Here are some tips to get you started, and make networking feel more personal.

1. Ask questions that help you learn about others.

Getting a conversation started can be tough, and asking questions is a good way to get someone to start talking. The best questions are the ones that really interest you and that the person to whom you are speaking can answer.

For instance, if you see your aunt over break, and she is a businesswoman whom you respect, you may want to seek out her advice. Asking Aunt Kaye what you should do with your degree in communications certainly involves a question that interests you, but she may not know about careers in communications or which resources to recommend.

Instead, try asking her questions that help you learn about her and her network. You might ask how the media she uses in business has changed and what sources she goes to for news, or if she knows anyone who works in communications, PR, or marketing at her firm or elsewhere. All of this information can help you make connections between her experiences, her network, and your career interests.

2. If you learn something helpful, explain how you will use that information.

If you have dinner with a friend’s family and learn that your friend’s brother’s girlfriend’s brother is a chef, and you want to become a chef, consider asking if you could speak with him about his career to learn more. Despite the distant connection, you can bridge this gap by asking for an introduction.

Then, follow your request with a simple explanation of how that can be useful to you, such as, “I’d like to learn more about how he found his first job, and what advice he could give to me.” This honesty makes the request sincere and easier to relay.

Just imagine the conversation that could follow between your friend’s brother and his girlfriend … “I went to dinner with my brother and his friend, James, and it came up that James wants to become a chef. Do you think your brother would talk to him about how he found his first job and share some advice?”

3. Share details that show your skills, professionalism, and motivation.

If you know what career information you need, you can be specific about your needs and your relevant skills, but if you don’t know what your career goals are, you may be unclear about how to promote your assets. Imagine yourself at a holiday party where you learn that someone is a physical therapist who works with athletes.

If you like sports, but never thought about this career path or taken any related courses, you may feel like you have no relevant assets to highlight. However, talking about your genuine interest, your willingness to work hard, and your eagerness to research requirements for jobs in the field are all examples of your professionalism.

Add to these the science and math classes you’ve taken or your experience from the sports you’ve played and you’ll be sharing the groundwork you’ve paved for the foundation of a new career. This can help people think of next steps or recommend you to their network.

4. Respect your environment.

Sometimes, a detailed conversation about your career isn’t appropriate or possible. You might be at a crowded party where it’s difficult to hear, other people might interrupt the conversation, or the person you want to speak with may not seem interested. If necessary, move to another topic.

However, if you feel that the person is receptive, consider asking if you could follow up to speak further or set up an informational interview. Don’t follow up by sending your resume. Instead, send an e-mail to thank the person for offering to speak and work towards setting up a convenient time for a meeting, either on the phone or in person.

Effective networking will lead to sincere, meaningful relationships

Networking over the holiday season can be fun and lead to new relationships and insights for your career. Conversations that reflect your interest in others can help you turn your holidays into a time of learning and expanding possibilities.

What relationships have you built through social events that have helped your career?


About The Author

Francine Fabricant_headshotFrancine Fabricant is a career counselor and the lead author of Creating Career Success. She has an extraordinary passion for career development, and is a frequent speaker on career topics. She has worked at the Columbia University Center for Career Education and FIT’s Career Services. She received an MA and EdM from Teachers College, Columbia University and a BA cum laude from Barnard College, Columbia University. Visit her website at


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Francine Fabricant, MA, EdM helps people rethink their opportunities and build careers that are personally meaningful and rewarding. Lead author of Creating Career Success, Francine is a lecturer at Hofstra University Continuing Education and has also worked at Columbia University’s Center for Career Education and FIT’s Career Services. She holds degrees from Barnard College and Teachers College, Columbia University and is a frequent speaker on career topics.


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