How to Find an Internship

The first step to getting that all important internship is finding it. So this is where we will start your semester-long journey towards internship success.

First of all, finding an internship is not much different from finding any other job. This is one of the reasons I believe all students should seek out an internship opportunity. It’s perfect practice as you approach the BIG job search when graduation looms.

There are a variety of ways to find out about an internship opportunity. Here are the most common:

  • Internship Postings. Check out online internship/job boards for openly advertised internship opportunities. There are a seemingly endless number of websites out there. Some are exclusively for internships, like Others are resources you can use now for internships and use in the future for post-grad jobs, such as Hawk Jobs. Stick to quality search sites – Check with a career advisor if you are questioning a source. Also keep in mind that this is the most popular way to search for internships. The higher volume of viewers means more applicants for the opportunities and more competition for you. Read my previous post on effectively searching internship postings.
  • Employer Sourcing. Know of a company or organization that you would LOVE to intern for? Check them out directly. Once you identify an organization, see if they have internship opportunities posted on their website. If they don’t, reach out by phone or email. Read more about the complete employer sourcing process, from finding organizations to making contact.
  • Networking. Have you ever heard that it’s all about who you know? Well, it’s true. Next to searching postings and connecting directly with specific employers, networking has proven to be an effective strategy for UW-Whitewater students seeking internships. You already have connections through family and friends, and it’s never too late to build new ones. I’ve written about networking A LOT, but this networking post is a good overview of using it as a strategy in your search.
  • Create Your Own. Did you know that it is sometimes possible to create your own internship? This is a very proactive approach. But if you can make it happen, there is the potential to have one of the best internship experiences possible. Interested? Read all about the process of creating an internship.

Curious how other UW-Whitewater students found their internships? Read the stories of interns who have been featured in our Intern Spotlight (aka Intern of the Month Program).

Have you started searching for internship opportunities? What strategies are working for you?

Photo from I Has A Hotdog

Confessions of a Summer Intern: Making Opportunities Happen

Leah gives us the scoop on where she is after her internship revelation in her first post.

A lot of things have happened since my last blog post! I ended up leaving my marketing internship at the Madison Mallards to explore various other options. It was a difficult decision for me, because I was concerned I would not have as much ‘real world experience’ as my fellow graduates. However, it was not the right fit for me and life is too short to actually work at work, you should enjoy what you do!

The Monday after I left the Mallards, I was determined to find another internship to fill my time this summer as well as a part time job so I could start making some money. I went to the Andersen Library Monday morning and searched for virtual internships. I wanted to try a virtual internship so that I could still work one or two part time jobs. I applied for a couple of them and awaited responses. Immediately I found a ‘mailer-dameon’ notice in my inbox telling me that the email addresses I sent my applications to were incorrect. I felt defeated because I spent all day tailoring my resume and writing cover letters just to have them sent right back to me. I decided that Tuesday I would focus my search on getting a part time job and put an internship as a secondary priority.

Tuesday, I went to Janesville and applied at every possible restaurant; no one was hiring. I went to the Duck Inn and they were also not hiring. I went home and applied online to several places such as Menards, Starbucks, and Target. I was getting impatient, because I didn’t have a job OR an internship and it was nearing July. I asked some friends if their jobs were hiring and waited to hear back, hoping somewhere had an opening!

In the meantime, I decided that I might try and create an internship and make some money at the same time by doing some social media work for local businesses. My plan on Wednesday was to create a ‘sales pitch’ for The Steaming Cup and possibly some local bars offering them social media services for a small fee. I figured that way I would be able to get some sort of marketing experience while making money as I continued my job search.

Wednesday came along and before I got started on any plans, I heard back from a friend that the Anchor Inn in Edgerton was hiring. I got myself ready and drove out to Edgerton hoping for the best. I filled out the application and handed it in.

Before I left, I mentioned that I would be willing to do some social media work as well since they didn’t have a strong Facebook presence, no Twitter at all, and no website. The bartender said ‘one moment’ and ran outside to grab the owner. John came in and talked with me for about 5 minutes asking my availability and what I could offer them as far as social media. I told him I could do Facebook and Twitter for sure and try to create a website even though I’ve never done it before. Then he said ‘Okay, you’re hired, come in tomorrow at 10:30 to start training.’ I was so excited! I found a part-time serving job AND I would be doing social media marketing for them! I instantly went home and started working on a website.

Before I get too ahead of myself, for those of you who don’t know, the Anchor Inn is a restaurant located on the Rock River. It’s in Newville. But since that is an unincorporated little town, the address will tell you it’s in Edgerton. We have an outdoor deck/patio, grass seating, and as of last year we have an outdoor bar! Bands play live music on the weekends on our stage that sits right on the river. We also have tables inside and a nice bar area. Here are some picture of the Anchor Inn!

Anchor Inn

Anchor Inn Patio

Internships for Psychology Students

lol-psycat - clinical psycat

Psychology is a popular field to study and it can lead students down a variety of career paths. For some, studying psychology simply lays the foundation for work outside of the human services realm. For others, pursuing a career the human/social services field is the goal. For those pursuing a career in psychology, graduate school is a necessity, not an option.

However, relevant experience as an undergrad is still important. It can help you decide if a career in psychology is right for you. It can help support your application for graduate study. And of course, it’s an important resume-builder that sets the stage for your career.

The trouble is that finding an “internship” in psychology or counseling while an undergraduate student is a challenge. For the most part, “internships” in the field are for grad students only. So what are you to do?

  • Don’t get hung up on titles! The word “internship” has taken on far too much importance. “Internship” is just another way of saying “career-related experience.” If you look at it from that perspective, the types of opportunities you discover will grow. In fact, many small non-profit organizations offer what many would consider to be internships; they just don’t call them by that name. If you disregard opportunities categorized as “volunteer,” you are eliminating a lot of potentially relevant experiences.
  • Look at community service opportunities. More specifically, seek out long-term volunteer placements. Long-term experiences tend to span a full semester or summer, just like an “internship.” Organizations like the UWW Center for Students with Disabilities and the Whitewater area schools offer longer volunteer assignments. It’s nice for them to have continuity in their volunteers, and it’s great for someone looking for a more in-depth experience. You can find opportunities through the UWW Volunteer Clearinghouse.
  • Don’t completely rule out internship postings. Organizations like Youth Services of Southern Wisconsin, Community Action, and the Boys & Girls Club often post internships on Hawk Jobs. Some organizations post information on their own websites, so see our growing list of field-specific resources for Nonprofits and Human & Social Services.
  • Conduct some employer sourcing, network, or create your own “internship.” Identify organizations you’d like to work with, through basic research or through your network, and reach out directly to discuss the potential of setting up an internship or volunteer assignment.

While your “internship” might be called something different or be found in a slightly different way, the purpose remains the same. Find an opportunity to perform work related to the work you hope to do as a future professional.

Photo by Kelly Garbato

Confessions of a Summer Intern: Reflections of a (Virtual) Intern

Alysondra Milano

For my final post, I’d like to take some time on what my experience has been working with Time at the Table as a virtual intern. Interning for them has been one of the best internship experiences I have ever had, even though I do most of my work independently. With a virtual internship, you are given freedom to be creative on a project and your superiors will expect you to do good work. This type of internship is not one where you will be bringing your bosses coffee. They have real expectations of what you can accomplish, and they want quality work.

I have written many things that have been distributed on a national level. In all of my other internships, they are only distributed locally since their focus is only the surrounding area. As a public relations student, this gives me a better chance of getting my work out in another major city rather than just the ones close to home. I can share my ideas and get feedback quickly, so the editing process is usually a lot faster as well.

One thing that has been hard sometimes is to find time to do my projects. I have found that if I do not schedule them as if I had to be at an actual building for work, I put things off. I try to plan out a few hours each week now to work on my projects for the week. Because of this, some other interns have left this organization because they could not keep up with the demands.

In other internships, I have sat in the offices for hours, waiting for them to give me something to do (even though I asked for additional work constantly). At times, I felt that I was not valued in my office because I was not given that extra creative space to write as I saw fit for the project at hand. With this position, you have to have the dedication to sit down and really produce quality work.

Time at the Table has given me the opportunity to fly out to Baltimore, MD to work on their workshops. This type of travel and exposure is something I likely could not have done with a local nonprofit.

I will say that not all local internships are a bad thing. I also created a virtual volunteer social media position with Valley of the Kings animal sanctuary in Sharon, WI. These small (and possibly self-created) internships are a great way to get a foot in the door and have something to add to your resume. I use each internship as a learning experience. Don’t be afraid to start small and work your way up to larger scale projects. As long as you keep your focus and stay on top of your work, the bigger internships you are looking for will come! All it takes is some practice and patience, and maybe a virtual internship or two.

Read Alysondra’s Internship Journey

  1. Meet Alysondra Milano
  2. Getting a Virtual Internship

Other Summer Intern Confessions

Gabby Fenzel

Erin Quist

Sarah Suter


Confessions of a Summer Intern: Meet Ellen Hatfield

Ellen Hatfield En Route to Internship in Oregon

Hello everyone! Before I introduce myself, I just want to thank Laura for letting me share my internship experience this summer with all of you.

Okay, here are the nitty gritty details. My name is Ellen Hatfield. I will be starting my 3rd, and final, year of graduate school in September here at UW-Whitewater. I am earning my Masters of Science in Counseling with emphasis in Higher Education. A year-long internship is required as part of my program and I will be starting at UW-Madison in late August. Most of my experience in higher education centers on career counseling.

To be more marketable, I decided to seek an extra internship experience in another area of Student Affairs. The other goals I had for seeking a summer experience included the opportunity to travel extensively around the country and to see if I really could “go anywhere” for a job. I started my internship search by deciding on a geographic location. My ideal areas were the Northeast U.S. (extending as far south as Washington, D.C. and to Ohio to the west) and the Pacific Northwest. I don’t think I could’ve picked more extreme locations.

I found potential people to contact through a membership directory of a professional organization I belong to. I emailed these contacts, after doing a decent amount of research about their schools, to ask about opportunities that were available or that could be created. I received a mix of positive, negative, and no responses. Before long I had a phone interview and offer from Eastern Oregon University in La Grande, OR. I will be working with the entire Student Affairs division on various projects. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to thank them enough for creating this opportunity for me.

My anticipation for this experience in Oregon has been building since early March. “Excited” I think is an understatement. Ultimately, I know I will be learning a lot from the people I will be working with and that I have a lot to offer them as well. I am looking forward to sharing this experience with you throughout the summer. If you want an update a little sooner, you can check out my own blog or follow me on Twitter.

Next week, meet Jon McGuff in the Confessions of a Summer Intern series!