Securing summer internships: on-campus tools and takes
As the semester comes to a close, students are longing for summer. While many plan to spend their break travelling, working, relaxing by the beach or all three, some intend to gain relevant career experience through summer internships.
“Students, we want you to find experience,” Director of Center for Engagement and Opportunity (CEO) Kay-lynne S. Taylor said. “Because that will help you stand above and apart from anyone else who is graduating and looking for the same job.”
How important are internships?
“I would call them vital,” Assistant Director for Career Services Michelle Flint said.
At many colleges and universities, an internship is a required part of the student’s degree. Those students who graduate with an internship gain both experience in a particular job market and real-world work skills to include on their resume.
“That is who you’re competing with,” Flint said. “Our students are incredibly bright, incredibly driven, really great students and you also need to say ‘I know how an office works’ or ‘I’ve had some experience with that population that I want to work with’—with kids, the elderly, whoever it is.”
Internships are also a useful way to test drive a profession, to know whether or not a particular career path is right.
Most importantly, the experience that individuals gain through internships is essential.
“If you think of it in terms of three skills: all employers want their new employees to be well-versed in performing, teamwork, collaboration and leadership, and critical thinking and problem solving—and I tie that to internationalism and globalism,” Taylor said. “When you talk about these skills, being humble, authentic and well-mannered becomes professionalism and work ethic and our students learn that when they are in jobs.”
There are internships geared towards both students and graduates. Post-graduate internships are increasingly popular among employers seeking those who have already obtained a bachelor’s degree.
“It’s important to know that companies see those internship programs as a pipeline for their new hires,” Flint said. “So if you get in to one of those internships and you do a good job, you have a very good shot at being hired by that company or one of that company’s competitors.”
These types of internships are particularly beneficial for those coming straight out of college.
“If you’re graduating and see a posting for an internship in your field, don’t discount it,” Flint said. “That company is looking to hire from that pool of interns and I’ve seen that happen to our graduates, so know that it’s not just for while you’re in school.”
How can the CEO help?
The CEO offers both online resources and in-person appointments.
Students can start with the ‘Internship Search Plan’ document, which can be found under the ‘Career Resources’ tab on ncf.edu/ceo. This tool helps students think about what they would like to gain from an internship and where they might be able to find internships that align with their goals.
There is also a professional providers page, which provides an extensive list of all of the places that students have had internships in the last five or ten years.
“The reason that we put this here is because 99 out of 100 of our internship providers had a fabulous experience with past New College students and would love another one,” Flint said. “So if you approach one of these companies, chances are the door is already cracked open because of that past positive success.”
The online job board provides an extensive list of jobs, internships and experience programs. The job board is one of the most useful of the offered resources, as it condenses potential opportunities into an accessible list. In the fall, the CEO will switch to a new software called Handshake, which will allow for even more opportunities to be posted.
It is also important for students to polish their resume and cover letter and to practice their interview skills. The professionals at the CEO are dedicated to helping students with every aspect of the application process.
“People who are in career services, it’s not just a job for us, it’s a mission,” Flint said. “It is such a thrill to help someone else create an incredible life. That’s what we do. We help you design and launch into an amazing life and so we’re thrilled when people walk into the door; we’re thrilled to be booked all day because it’s our mission, it’s our life’s work.”
“We have a passion for all of the services that we provide, where we are imbedded into all of our resources because, ultimately, our goal is to see our students succeed,” Taylor said.
Summer internship spotlight
Many students have exciting opportunities for this upcoming summer.
Second-year transfer student Yasmeen Wilson will be interning as a Software Engineer in Boston, Massachusetts for the e-commerce site Wayfair.
“I got the internship by just applying online,” Wilson wrote in an email interview. “I was really lucky because I had applied to around 50+ places for Data Science/Software Engineering internships but didn’t really have a high response rate. I figured I was doing something wrong and remade my resume and applied to another 20 including Wayfair and the very next day I had an invitation for a phone interview.”
As a natural science student particularly interested in computer science, this internship directly aligns with Wilson’s career goals. On top of that, the internship pays a significant salary.
“They are paying me more than enough to cover the cost of rent in Boston, Fall and Spring semester at New, and to have stacks left over,” Wilson said.
Second-year student Alyssa Borgschulte will be interning as a Marine Mammal Training Specialist with the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
“I will be preparing meals for the animals, such as fish, do a lot of cleaning of the habitats, giving narrations to our guests about the dolphins, pelicans, otters and nurse sharks,” Borgschulte wrote in an email interview. “I will also be hands on with the animals learning how to train them and take care of them. I will also have the opportunity to get in the water with the dolphins.”
Borgschulte had to send in a resume, cover letter and letter of recommendation. From there, she was interviewed and asked difficult questions about animals under human care.
“I used the CEO to help me with my cover letter and resume!” Borgschulte wrote. “I can’t wait to work with Winter the dolphin from the movie Dolphin Tale.”
First-year student Michelle Voight will be working as a Level II Animal Care Intern at Nebraska Wildlife Rehab Inc., which is located right outside of Omaha, Nebraska.
“I will be working with a wildlife rehabber and other interns to diagnose and treat wounded/ill wild animals like beavers, foxes, raccoons, bats and other native animals found in Nebraska,” Voight wrote in an email interview.
Voight’s internship required 250+ hours of past rehab experience.
“I had those hours and wanted to continue to learn new things in this field so I applied,” Voight continued. “I hope to become a licensed wildlife rehabilitator soon after completing this internship and use my experience working at wildlife rehabs in applying to vet school after undergrad.”
These opportunities show how committed New College students are to their goals. With the right support, tools and guidance, students can gain outside experience relevant to their interests and future.