Are you one of those eager-to-graduate types who can’t wait to start working and make a name for yourself? Well don’t fret, there are many ways to get professional experience while still in school.

Most students these days are required to get professional experience in the form of internships, but many times those internships don’t expose students to the real duties they would have in a paid position.  We’ve all heard stories of interns doing the grunt work companies don’t have time for – filing, copying, running errands and getting coffee.

However, this shouldn’t discourage you young and enthusiastic workaholics dying to get your ‘real world’ experience on. If you think your internship didn’t provide a sufficient look into the company you want to work for, don’t worry.  There are plenty of opportunities on campus that can put your skills to work.

For you business-savvy individuals, Marketing Mix is an organization that allows students to provide free marketing consultation to East Lansing businesses and, in turn, develop their marketing skills.  Students are divided into teams of about six and each team is responsible for either advising a local business with promotion, developing an improved marketing plan, or both.

“It’s not just an organization where we just talk about what we are going to do,” said marketing junior Matt Rupas.  “We actually just do work. I’m thrown right into the fire.”

Source: http://www.zzunderwaterworld.net

Rupas is the team leader for ZZ Underwater World, a scuba diving store in Lansing. His team is currently developing a strategic marketing plan and educating the employees on social media for promotion.  Part of their research involves developing a travel plan for student divers.

“Basically we are doing market research on where students would want to go, how much they would be willing to pay, what they would be interested in and how would we market it,” said Rupas.

Other students are gaining professional experience directly from the classroom. MSU’s Capital News Service is a reporting course offered to undergraduates and graduate students focusing on state government. The course can count for either class credit or internship credit, and runs like a professional newsroom.  Every Monday, these eager young journalists meet with public officials in Lansing to get story ideas and keep updated on current events. Students write one to two articles each week on a topic of their choice, which are then edited and sent to Michigan newspapers for publication.

“I wanted something that would integrate me into the real world of how journalism really works,” said Angie Jackson, a journalism junior currently enrolled in the class. “And the fact that I could be published was really appealing to me.”

She added that her experience with CNS has given her the opportunity to interview many interesting people who are passionate about the issues she is researching.  Jackson had a previous internship at Click on Detroit, an online news service featuring everything from breaking news to lifestyle and shopping advice, where she compiled information and created about seven to ten stories a day. This internship was less focused on interviewing, which is a necessary skill for journalists and one she is developing in CNS, she said.

If you are an aspiring entrepreneur, you may want to participate in the next Startup Weekend, which occurred for the first time in Lansing during the weekend of Nov. 5.  Participants in this event broke into teams on Friday to create a presentation for a business idea, which they then pitched to a panel of judges on Sunday night. English senior, Bryce Colquitt, and his team won the competition with the idea of Jolly Digital, a company designed to make educational games for kids.  Colquitt participated in Startup for the educational experience and didn’t anticipate the launch of his own company.

“Through mentoring, I’ve realized that kids like to learn in alternative ways and not traditional ways, and also we don’t teach our kids a lot about how to handle money,” said Colquitt. “What Jolly Digital does is create games that enable kids to learn about personal finance and entrepreneurship through non traditional ways.”

Colquitt’s team won a package of prizes including $1000 from the MSU Alumni Association and $1000 from T.J. Duckett. He is currently working with game-makers, educators and finance crews in hopes of having the games in schools by the beginning of the next school year.

“Some people come out of this with a cool experience, and that’s what I have also,” Colquitt said. “But I also have a company that I’m actually going to run and that I actually plan on making money and making an impact.”

Looking for these opportunities may seem overwhelming, but there are a variety resources available to help make the process a little easier. For starters, talk to a career advisor within your college.  They can help you find internships based on your area of interest and can also give advice on building resumes and cover letters to best reflect your skills and accomplishments.

New jobs are posted every day on myspartancareer.com, and there is also the newly launched SpartanCareer YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/spartancareer, which provides videos to assist students in their job search. For an on-campus internship, check out the Internships@State program at intern.careernetwork.msu.edu.

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