NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — In today’s job market, what you do with an internship before you graduate college has never been more important than now.

As CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu reported, an internship is key in landing a job after college these days.

So what are the do’s and don’ts after you’ve landed an internship?

The most competitive internships can have thousands of applicants, which is why Paula Lee, of the NYU Wasserman Career Center, suggests contacting companies before they even post their internships online.

“Send them a resume and cover letter and ask them to keep you in mind for future positions,” Lee said.

Once you land the internship, experts urge students to treat it just like a full-time job, Hsu reported.

Be sure to dress the part too. “We always say if in doubt, it’s better to be over dressed than under dressed. Always keep it professional,” Lee said.

Vinh Thai, a junior at NYU on his second internship, said he always carries around business cards and that networking is very important.

“You should definitely go out and network with other people in different divisions within the company as well,” Thai said.

Jeff Chang, a recruiter for a technology consultant, told Hsu that everything counts for an intern to stand out.

“If you come on time, before I do or before most of the people in the office that looks really great. If you tend to leave earlier or tend to not seem like you’re working on something that doesn’t look so good,” Chang said.

Rutgers junior Taryn Hatcher is a sports intern at CBS. She said she dreams of being a sideline sports reporter and that once she’s done with her assigned duties for the day she always asks, “do you need me to do anything else, or is there anything extra I can do, because a little bit of help leads to a lot of opportunity later I find.”

Experts say an intern who is pro-active and comes to the table with new ideas will have a better chance of landing a job.

And when the internship is over, it’s important to write a thank you note to each of the people who helped you out. Be sure to stay in touch too. It could lead to years of advice and a possible job offer down the road.

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