Internships play a critical role in successfully landing employment following graduation. Each semester, hundreds of UMW students participate in internships. While each student’s journey to nabbing the internship may have been different, there is one thing that they all share: the desire to increase their marketability on the job market.
Internships allow students the opportunity to test drive a field without any long term commitments. For some students, it reaffirms their choice while it may lead to a desire for change in others. Interns are increasingly being hired by their internship sites as employers decide to utilize the students that they have already invested time and resources on. Students at UMW also have the added benefit of having internships included as a part of their educational experience. An internship is a viable option for students in gaining academic credits which may count as electives, general education requirements or as a part of their major. Below are some suggestions to get started with the internship process:
- Get Ready! Begin Basic Research on Internships! Begin your internship process by finding out what some common internships are in your field of interest! Talking to your faculty or beginning with a simple Google Search can get you headed down the right path. To begin, ask yourself the following questions:
- How long does the internship last?
- Are internships in the field paid or unpaid? (What is an unpaid internship?)
- Where are the best opportunities for the internships located? (Don’t forget to consider International Experiences)
- During what timeframe will you complete the internship?
- How will I get there?
- Am I going to complete an internship for credit? If so, what are my academic department’s policies?
- How will I pay for the credits if my internship is in the summer or is considered an academic overload? (Consider applying for an Internship Grant)
- What do I want to get out of my experience?
- If you are completing an internship during the semester, how will it fit in with your classes? Other jobs?
- Get Set! Prepare yourself and your materials. Schedule an appointment with a Career Coach. A Career Coach can not only help you search for an internship, but they can also help you to create a timeline for internship applications. You can also develop your resume, cover letter, and any other materials that you may need. Our Career Readiness Campaign can help you determine the steps you can take to move closer to internship and job search success. Begin the application process early to give yourself time to have your internship ready to be started during the timeframe you have set for completion. Communication is key during this step in the process. Be sure that you can readily identify who you are from a professional standpoint, what you can offer an internship site and what you are looking for in an internship. Be sure that you have an understanding of what you will be asked to do during the internship. If you will be completing the internship for academic credit, collect all of the information needed for the academic internship contract.
- Go! Complete your Internship. Throughout the internship, be sure to make the most of the experience. Keep track of any projects you complete. Don’t be afraid to ask for experiences if there is something you would like to do before you leave. Make connections and make an attempt to get around to other departments to find out how they operate so that you have a view of the larger picture. And most of all, enjoy your time.
When you have completed the internship, book an appointment to update your resume. You should also debrief with someone from your academic department. Take the time to write thank you notes to your internship site and to follow up with any connections you made during the experience.
Bianca Hightower, Assistant Director for Career and Professional Development/Internship Coordinator