A Few Dos and Don’ts of the Internship Process
by Jasmin Palmer
I learned a lot about how not to get an internship the summer after my freshman year. What did I do? I thought that I would focus on getting a cool job to gain some experience and build some skills rather than an internship. This was my time to not worry about what happens after college. I could become a waitress! That was cool right? Swirling between tables and balancing loads of plates in my arms and orders in my head I knew I’d be great. What did it matter that I was a newcomer to the NY internship/job search process? In no time flat, I discovered how wrong I was. Hopefully we can all learn from my mistakes!
- Do NOT underrate an internship experience--sure, they may not be paid, but the worth of an internship should not be weighed monetarily. Internships are priceless for the networking opportunities as well as for the knowledge you will gain in a particular career, industry, or the lifestyle that goes along with it. You will have plenty of time to get a boring job to pay bills after school.
- Please, please, do start your search early. How early? Now is not a bad time. By starting early, you give yourself the ability to weigh different options and to research golden opportunities that might have already been lost if you had waited till the spring. Keep in mind any opportunities you missed this season and put their deadlines on your haverford google calendar for next year. That way, even if you completely disregard searching for an internship through the fall, you will still be reminded of important deadlines as they approach and there will be plenty of time to prepare for them. If you’re addicted to text messages like me, you can even get alerts to your phone so you don’t miss a beat.
- Do look through your connections. This is where networking comes in handy, and you need not look too far in a lot of situations. If you’re just starting out (like I was freshman year), feel free to ask your family members if they are aware of any opportunities. Reach out to your community groups or your neighbors. When I felt stranded and in dire need of help, a friend of my mom was able to offer me an internship position that had just opened up. At first I was embarrassed because I thought that this was something I was supposed to secure on my own. The fact of the matter was that the vast majority of the interns there had connections to the company. Which leads to…
- Do not spend a lot of time with online internship resources. Just, don’t. I cannot tell you how many hours I spent that summer staring at the computer screen and searching through and applying to scores of opportunities online. Though there are plenty of opportunities available, the problem is that these sites are open to any and everyone and it is likely that the company is not solely relying on this resource to acquire solid interns. You have virtually no one to vouch for your super cool awesomeness as far as they’re concerned. Not to mention that many companies aren’t great about checking their available candidates and deleting their posts as soon as they’ve made a decision. It will be rare for you to hear back from a company if they choose not to consider you. A better solution would be to…
- Do meet face to face. Although so much of our lives are online these days, there is nothing like making a connection with someone in person. There is a lot you can learn about a position when you see for yourself the environment and atmosphere of a potential workspace. By all means, start your research online and supplement it by visiting the office. Feel free to bring your resume or a completed application. By applying in person you put a face to your name and are less likely to be forgotten. But please…
- DON’T FORGET TO USE THE CCPA! This is honestly the best piece of advice anyone could get. The office is filled with friendly faces who know what they’re doing and are there to help you. Be sure to see what programs the CCPA offers or is affiliated with. Programs such as the Whitehead internship and exclusive databases can help you find a worthwhile experience you can be proud of. In simpler terms, you can find something legit through services like these.
Whatever you choose to do, remember that you are not alone and that it’s never
too late to get help! Be creative and utilize all of the wonderful resources you have
available to you.