Internships are a vital part of the collegiate experience, intended to help develop the work habits, attitudes, and skills needed to begin your career. They enable you to build your network of professional contacts, explore career options, apply classroom theory/concepts, become acquainted with company culture, and make a contribution to the organization that mentors you. Sound a tad daunting? Read on!
It’s never too early to start thinking about internships. In fact, lack of planning may prevent you from getting the experience you want. All students (including freshmen!) would be wise to acquaint themselves with the steps to find, secure, and make the most of an internship experience. The Career TIP Sheet – Best Practices for Student Interns – or our weekly internship tutorials, where you will be given a workbook offering practical advice on topics of importance surrounding the full internship experience, would be great places to start.
Before, during, and following:
It can easily seem as though the most difficult stage of being an intern takes place long before your first day – as you search and apply to, interview for, and ultimately are selected for a position! Career Services has oodles of resources to help you uncover leads, compose your resume and cover letter, and prepare for interviews. Consider watching the Creating a Resume webshop and reading the Telling Your Story (interviewing) TIP Sheet. These, along with other resources can help you make a professional first impression at events like the Capital Region Internship Fair (an annual fall event – held this year on October 1st).
Landing the position, however, is only a fraction of what it takes to create a quality experience. Setting goals as part of your pre-internship planning will help you identify opportunities that match your interests and needs. Thoughtful goal setting will also help you articulate what you hope to learn to your supervisors; maintaining regular communication about expectations and assignments is vital too. Ask for feedback frequently and keep a journal to track and reflect upon your activities. Nearing the end of your experience, make plans for maintaining your new network and practice telling others about your internship.
Making the unobtainable, obtainable!
Perhaps you’ve been thinking an internship at the Smithsonian would give your resume the boost it needs. Or, maybe interning in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, NYC, Nashville, London, or Rome would surround you with professionals in the industry you hope to enter upon graduation. “Sounds great,” you say, “but how will I afford it?”
The Edward H. Arnold and Jean Donlevy Arnold Internship Grants were created to remove financial impediments and help students pursue previously inconsiderable internships. Examples may include underpaid internship experiences within the United States or assistance with an international opportunity. Preference is given to proposals that show cost-intensive, unique, transformative experiences, and provide students the opportunity to have internships out of the local area. Learn more HERE.
So, how about it? Will you hone your strengths, make a contribution, build your network, and improve your chances for a bright future with an internship?
~Sharon Givler, director of career services