How to Land an Internship Early

by Anna Naden ’15, Career Center Fellow

Having an internship is becoming increasingly critical across industries in terms of what employers look for in recent graduates who apply to their organizations. Aside from being an important credential, an internship is an experiential learning opportunity that gives you insight into what working in a particular field is actually like day-to-day. Starting your internship search can be the hardest part of the whole process, especially if you’re not totally sure what you want to do or have never had an internship before. To help you out, we interviewed two students that had successful internship searches about what they learned from their experiences.

Having an internship is becoming increasingly critical across industries in terms of what employers look for in recent graduates who apply to their organizations.

Abbie Moore is a junior this year who works in the Career Center as a Peer Intern. Last summer, she interned at the Dublin Entrepreneurial Center, the DEC, in Ohio. She describes the organization as “a big area for a bunch of different startups, like a hundred and fifty of them.” When I asked Abbie what she did as an intern there, she hesitated. “What I did—well, what I thought I was going to do was work with a lot of the different companies on projects that they wanted to do, getting exposure to a variety of businesses and how your start up a company.”

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Entry at the DEC where Abbie interned.

What Abbie ended up doing at the DEC was what we might think of as more typical intern tasks; covering the front desk, stuffing envelopes, drafting PowerPoints, and so on. Even though her experience wasn’t what she thought it would be, Abbie got a first-hand look at the unavoidable behind-the-scenes work that comes along with running a business or getting a startup off the ground. She also used her part-time job at a local country club to put her networking skills to use. “During and after my internship, I realized that I need to be way more proactive in my internship search with networking. I think this experience motivated me to get focused and find a better internship for me.”

 

Abbie working hard at her desk.

Abbie working hard at her desk!

The good news for Abbie, and for those of you in a similar place after completing an internship that didn’t turn out to be as glamorous as you’d hoped it’d be, is that organizations will consider you as a candidate for more opportunities now that you have some experience under your belt. With an eye on her experience last summer, Abbie is already taking steps to think ahead to next summer: “First, make an appointment at the Career Center just to tell them what you’re looking for, whatever class year you are. Getting started early is good. The second step is to make a list of all your family members and friends who might have an in to whatever industry you’re looking toward. Networking is the biggest thing, ever. After that, start going on websites of different companies that you’re interested in and look at the deadlines and make a list for yourself of their deadlines. Finally, if you want to go into consulting or business, start your case prep early!”

Networking is the biggest thing, ever.

Andrew Schwartz is a junior that received internship funding from the Career Center for his position as a research assistant for the United States District Court in Denver last summer. He worked for Judge Kane helping research several different cases that were in the sentencing stage or leading up to trial. Like Abbie, Andrew’s internship experience helped him gain perspective about the work he’s interested in. “I am beyond grateful for this experience with regard to my future goals, as it really gave me a perspective on what being a trial lawyer is all about. The multiple memorandums I helped draft for Judge Kane really opened my eyes to legal writing. Additionally, I truly believe my experience as a political science major at Colorado College has also provoked my desire to do this type of work, as I have learned to research an extensive variety of information and compile it in a manner that is both informative and rich in rhetoric.”

I think that as long as you are honest with yourself, and demonstrate a true element of curiosity, it couldn’t hurt to really get your name out there.

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Andrew in the courthouse offices.

Andrew’s internship search involved sending a lot of emails to local judges and attorneys he knows to see if they or anyone they knew had an opportunity available. His advice? “Finding an internship can be as simple as sending an email to people that work for an organization that has some sort of relation to your academic interests and/or future goals. I think that as long as you are honest with yourself, and demonstrate a true element of curiosity, it couldn’t hurt to really get your name out there. Just be diligent and broaden your opportunities as best you can, as it’s likely (as it happened with me several times) that you won’t even get a response from some people.”

 

In other words, persistent and focused relationship-building will help you land the internship you want. And remember, the Career Center is here for you every step of the way!


Both of these stories are from students that received internship funding from the Career Center for their unpaid internships; this is in part because, since the Career Center manages the internship funding process, we have a record of these students and information about their internships already on hand. If you completed a paid or unpaid internship last summer and you want us to know about it, email us or call us at 719.389.6893. We’d love to hear from you!

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