The art of finding an internship can be a daunting task for students who are looking to advance their career and gain professional experience.
Internships are a great way to gain hands-on work experience and figure out what your likes and dislikes of a job are. They can also provide an opportunity to network with industry professionals as you develop and refine your skills.
But for those who don’t know where to begin, Victoria Hucke, assistant director of employer engagement at the Career and Professional Development Center, recommends making the first step a one-on-one appointment at the center.
There, Hucke and other staff members can assist with anything from application materials to expanding students’ professional network.
Another good place to start, Hucke says, is thinking about what exactly you want to experience and what would be beneficial to your future career path as well as logistic factors your ideal internship would need to entail.
The Career and Professional Development Center also hosts a variety of career services such as Treks, career and internship fairs and ZagsConnect, the alumni mentoring program.
Hucke suggests students utilize multiples platform such as LinkedIn, Indeed and GU’s own internal ZagsIgnite platform to search for their optimal internship. With ZagsIgnite, students have the opportunity to connect with GU alumni in their field of study who can offer career advice and potentially opportunities within their company.
ZagsIgnite is also a place for students to find job postings, make appointments with the Career and Professional Development Center and register for career fairs. Students can make an account on ZagsIgnite using their GU email address and password.
Due to COVID-19, Hucke says many internships have moved online, and employers are relying more on their digital presence, including websites and social media, to recruit interns in place of traditional campus visits.
“Some of the experiences that we used to find available might not be there but there’s also new opportunities because of the way things have transitioned, so, I think it’s still really possible for students to get internships, even in the middle of COVID-19,” Hucke said.
While searching for internships, Hucke suggests students develop a plan by curating a routine to keep track of where they are checking for openings, application deadlines and communication with their network contacts.
During this search, Hucke recommends keeping application pieces such as resumes, cover letters and a professional online presence ready and updated, which the Career and Professional Development Center can also assist with.
In order to stand out amongst other applicants, Hucke says it is important to be able to show and articulate the skills you’ve learned through your unique experiences with school projects, past work experience and other extra-curricular involvements.
If all else fails and students are unable to secure an internship, Hucke suggests trying to find a part-time job related to their field of study in order to align their experiences with their career goals. Alternatively, Hucke says some students find working with a non-profit offering a part-time unpaid internship allows them to gain the experience they’re looking for.
Senior Kara Eikermann is one of those students working with the non-profit If You Could Save Just One through the Mozilo Student Experience. If You Could Save Just One is a youth service organization that provides resources and opportunities for families in the Hillyard area.
Through her internship, Eikermann is assisting the organization with fundraising, marketing and general administrative duties.
After working with the Career and Professional Development Center to work on her application materials, Eikermann suggests doing the same and having as many people as possible look over the materials.
“It gets overwhelming when you get a bunch of different opinions, but I think that it takes a bunch of opinions until it gets to where you want it to be and where it should be,” Eikermann said. “So, I would just say keep working on it because it can always be improved and it’s a super important part of the application process.”
The business major first heard about the internship through ZagsIgnite and later connected with her former professor Danielle Xu, who started the Mozilo Student Experience. The Mozilo Student Experience provides university funding for students interning at non-profit organizations.
Eikermann’s advice to students searching for the right internship is to apply for as many positions as you can, because you never know what will end up working out.
“I’m super happy that I decided to apply, even though it wasn’t exactly what I wanted, because it can be way more of an opportunity than you initially think it is based off of the job description,” Eikermann said. “So, I think just apply to anything that looks like a good fit for you because I think the more opportunities you have to interview and practice, even if you don’t get the internship, is great and you never know what’s going to be a good fit, and I think I found a good one.”