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12:00 am - Mon, Apr 30, 2012

April 30, 2012 | By Lauren Holliday, Teenlink Correspondent

Four years ago, when I graduated high school, I thought about everything except the reason I was moving hundreds of miles away from my parents, which was to receive my degree.

If your parents are footing the bill, then college is not synonymous with freedom. Even if they are not, trust me, college is still not synonymous with freedom.

Do not get me wrong, college is awesome. But the experience will be even better if you think about the important things, too, such as grades and internships.

After completing three internships myself, and speaking with intern veteran, Lauren Berger – also known as Intern Queen – I pocketed an array of valuable lessons.

1: Do your research.

While the number of willing interns increases so does the number of not-so-good internship opportunities. It is important that you talk to previous interns. What did they learn? Were they involved or were they running coffee?

2: Pick 12 places you want to learn.

After researching, focus on your 12 most coveted internship positions. What are their requirements? Does the company require a 3.0 GPA? Do they want a junior or senior? Make sure you are working toward meeting those requirements. And remember, a brand name is not always a genuine experience.

3: An internship is not a class. Your professor may not miss you, but your boss will.

You may be one of a handful of interns or the only one, so your boss will notice your presence or lack-there-of. Internships don’t count toward your GPA. The experiences account for something much more important – major-related lines on your resume.

4: Don’t overlook an internship that doesn’t relate to your major.

Although I study journalism I spent last summer as a marketing intern, and it was the best thing I could have done. In fact, all of the jobs I have applied for since then are marketing-related. The classroom and the workplace are opposites. Do not think that because you’re not good at business in the classroom, you won’t excel at it in the real world.

5: Show your appreciation.

It is vital to remember the people who made your experience possible – your bosses. Do not forget or underestimate their help, and make sure you return the favor.

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