So, you made it into college, congrats! You should be so proud of yourself, but this is only the beginning. In order for you to be prepared and secure a job in the workforce, you need to be able to prove that you can perform and get the job done. The first step in order for you to get some professional work experience under your belt would be to land an internship in your desired career field.  

Finding an internship is an amazing opportunity for you to discover what you like and dislike. It also shows potential employers that you are serious about your future and that you enjoy what you do. Obtaining an internship is crucial to your career and it can really set you apart from your competition. At this point, you are probably convinced that you want and need an internship, but don’t know how to get started.  

Below you’ll find expert level tips from our partners at NerdWallet on how to find an internship. 

Visit your career services office 

Our experts all agree that visiting your college’s career office is extremely important as you begin your internship search process. “Most schools have career offices that offer a host of internship and/or co-op opportunities,” says career expert Uva Coles. The career services staff can help you understand the application and interview processes as well. While you’re there, make sure to find out about other resources available.  

Build up your professional network 

Before you start applying for internships, it’s a great idea to build up your professional network. “In general, networking works well because people tend to hire people that they know, like and trust,” explains Mark Chan, one of our experts. 

This can be as simple as staying a few minutes after class or attending your professor’s office hours to learn about his or her previous work and research experience. “Seek out faculty, administrators or alumni whom you trust and admire,” says career expert Thomas Ward. 

Another easy way to build your network is to set up a LinkedIn account and connect with professionals, family friends, and other students. Actively update your profile to showcase your previous work, club, and leadership experience. Building up your professional network will be useful for informational interviews, which are explained in step four. 

Assess your career interests 

As you begin thinking about internships, you might be unsure which fields best suit your strengths, skills and interests. There is a wide variety of assessments available that can help you figure this out. Expert suggestions include: Focus II, Self-Directed Search and Myers-Briggs. Ask your career services staff for more information and whether your school has subscriptions, so that you can take the tests for free or at a discounted rate. 

Set up informational interviews 

Once you have a better idea of what careers might fit your skills and interests, it can be beneficial to talk to individuals who are currently in the field.  ”The holidays are a good time to take advantage of networking opportunities to approach your parents’ friends and extended family members about their careers,” says expert Marilyn Santiesteban. Career guru VA Hayman Barber encourages you to reach out to professionals whom you meet at company info sessions, career fairs and career events on campus. 

Informational interviews will allow you to gain a better understanding of the jobs that are out there. Come prepared with a list of questions to show you have done your research and are truly curious about the field.  

Start applying 

Once you have completed the previous steps, your internship search will be well on its way. Through your professional network and the informational interviews, you should have some leads on internships and potential companies. When contacting those leads, be detailed about the type of experience you are hoping to gain through your internship, the skills you can provide and if you are seeking school credit or compensation.  

To read the full article, visit Finding an Internship: Expert Advice for College Sophomores from NerdWallet today.