Do big name employers mind if your previous internships were not at big name companies?
I was wondering how HR takes into consideration the locations of where their applicants worked at, and whether working at a small company would matter? (eg. a Marketing Intern for Small Company vs. General Intern for Big Company with some transferrable skills and/or Marketing Intern position from 5-6 years ago)
Hi Tanya, This is a super question.
Basically an employer wants to know that you are a good fit for their job and that you either have the specific skills or you have transferable experience(s) that they believe will make you successful. It is very valuable to put yourself in the potential employers shoes. What do I mean?
Look very carefully at each job description requirements and see how your experiences answer the employer's needs. Many times candidates don't pay attention to the actual details and get eliminated early. Employers are looking for actual skills and how well you articulate what you did. Many times you can get these skills at smaller companies because the reality is to get the job done you have to wear many hats. This is a great opportunity to learn and gain experience. The key is how you convey this on your resume/application and in the interview. You can also have great experiences at a big company: be sure to complete all your assignments and reassess with your supervisor(s) during and after each assignment. Again how you communicate the experience gained to a future employer is important. Location may or may not be important - it really depends on your industry and specific situation. As a potential employer, I would be more focused on your skill set unless there was a specific regional or local based skill that was needed for the job - like a language, knowledge of a specific city/culture, or experience at a specific company that has a unique product or service.
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In my experience, it doesn't always matter where you interned - it's the relevant experience that matters. While all hiring managers have different sets of expectations and requirements, I always look for someone that took the initiative to experience an internship, and then review the type of experience garnered during that time.
When I was in college, I did two internships at PR agencies, which were pretty large. After graduating, I decided that PR was no longer my preferred career path, and instead pursued a career in advertising. My internships were still relevant, because they were at an agency that serviced clients, so the experience was quite relevant in an account management position. As my first boss once told me - advertising is easy. It's learning your clients business that takes time.
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I think you have some great answers here, and just want to elaborate that what matters more is the skills you learn, not if your company has a big name or not. When I was applying for jobs out of college, the questions I got from hiring managers were more about my relevant experience, and how I could apply the skills I had learned to this new role.
I would focus on getting internships that help you build skills in the areas that you're interested in.