When Do You Begin the Search for a Summer Internship?

This a question I’ve been getting a lot lately. Is it too early to start looking into summer internships? Is it worthwhile going to the Hawk Career Fair for summer internships?

As far as I’m concerned, it’s never too early to start looking into internships. And if you are planning on an internship this upcoming summer – nine months away – now is actually an ideal time to start your process.

Summer Time (I)

As you could see from last week’s post, there are a lot of organizations attending the Hawk Career Fair seeking interns. Some of them are focused on summer interns.

For example, most of the internships with Colony Brands (formerly The Swiss Colony) start in June. The Management Trainee Internship with Enterprise Rent-a-Car is a summer opportunity. Finally, if you want to intern with Target, you’ll want to connect with them at the fair. Their Stores Executive Internship is for Summer 2013.

Some students will end the fall semester with their summer internships set.

What if you’re not interested in the companies or summer opportunities at the Hawk Career Fair? Will you be behind if you don’t finish this semester with your summer internship secured?

Not at all. However, there are still some things to work on to keep your summer internship search on track:

  • Your Resume – Don’t wait until you absolutely need your resume to prepare it. Start working on it now. Have it reviewed by one of our career advisors. Then have it reviewed again, maybe by a different career advisor. You’ll have a knock-out resume ready to go when opportunities start to pop up.
  • Your Resources – What resources are best for finding internships in your field? Know what resources you want to use and make sure you know how to use them effectively. Take Hawk Jobs, for example. Do you know how to use the “Advanced Search” features? Did you know that you can have new postings emailed to you? Have you found the hidden career resources? If you answered no to any of these questions, you might want to meet with a career advisor for a short tutorial.
  • Your Strategy – Just like in a job search, there’s more to finding an internship than searching for opportunities on job boards. Networking is an important strategy, one that you can implement right now. Did you know that some students create their own internships? Is that a strategy that might work for you? It could be, and now is the perfect time to explore it.

If your plans include an internship for Summer 2013, now is the time to start. Even if you aren’t applying for anything right now (many more opportunities will pop up starting in late January), you will be completely ready when the time comes.

Photo by Jesus Solana

Virtual Internships: Intern Wherever You Are

Home Office

In my meetings with students this semester, I have been talking more and more about virtual internships. In part, this was sparked by Alysondra’s posts this summer. Her positive experience makes it easy to advocate for students’ in certain situations to consider it. For some, a virtual internship would fit perfectly with their career aspirations (think PR/social media work and writing). For others, a virtual opportunity might be the key to having an internship period. No matter your situation, I would begin including virtual internships into your search.

What IS a Virtual Internship?

A virtual internship is an internship experience which allows you to work for organizations all around the country from the comfort of home or your college campus. They have become very popular with smaller organizations and start-ups, especially those that revolve around technology. Thanks to some of that same technology, you may never have a need to set foot into the physical workspace of the employer. Virtual internships are ideal in the following fields:

  • Technology
  • Business
  • Journalism
  • PR/Social Media

Think about the things you need in order to accomplish most work-related projects and tasks: a phone, a computer, email, and the internet. These are all things you have right at your fingertips where you live or go to school.

How to Find a Virtual Internship

Finding a virtual internship is simple – Do the same things you are already doing to find an on-site internship. Online, some job boards are specializing in virtual internships. One such site is YouTern. YouTern focuses on internships with start-ups, and many of the opportunities posted are virtual. In fact, you can select your preference for virtual/telecommuting positions in their Advanced Search feature.

In addition to your online search, be proactive. Reach out to organizations you are interested in working with and ask about the possibility of a virtual internship. Even though they have been around for awhile, virtual internships are only now becoming more common. It’s understandable if an organization has not thought about it as an option. Bring up the possibility of virtual work for an existing opportunity or include the virtual element in an internship proposal.

There are other matters to discuss in the realm of virtual internships, but I’ll save those issues for a future post. In the meantime, consider adding virtual opportunities into your search. You never know what great positions you’ll uncover.

Photo by Johan Larsson

Alumni: Your Internship Advantage

University Day, 1911

The value of networking in the search for an internship cannot be overestimated. Whether it’s finding out about an internship through an established professional relationship or creating an internship by connecting with a new professional contact, networking should be a component of a successful search process.

With homecoming upon us, let’s focus on a key networking resource: alumni. I’ve heard alumni called “warm contacts.” You already share something in common with alumni – your university, their alma mater. Whether you get it now or not, your alma mater often becomes a large part of your identity, and when you graduate, you maintain warm feelings for the institution where you completed your undergraduate work. As a result, alumni want to give back, and a great way of doing so is by helping out students who are studying where they did.

How do you access this excellent resource? Here are a few ways:

  • LinkedIn – LinkedIn has always been a great resource for connecting with alumni. While it might seem counterintuitive, join the group “Alumni of UWW.” You might not be an alum (yet), but you can start making connections with them now. LinkedIn’s power to connect you with alumni just got better with their launch of Classmates. This new tool allows you to make a professional connection with your fellow Warhawks.
  • Professional Associations – There are a lot of UW-Whitewater alumni working in Southeastern Wisconsin. By connecting with professional organizations (at the non-student level), you are bound to run into a few.
  • Campus Events – Even though they graduated, alumni often return to campus. Homecoming events will bring some back to UW-Whitewater. Alumni are invited into classes (like our Career Information classes) and the classroom environment can be prime for making a professional connection. These are just a couple of examples of where you might encounter alumni around campus.

Get in the sprit of homecoming and reach out to a UW-W alum or two. When it comes to internship aspirations, it’s a no-brainer.

Photo by Jeff Ozvold

Rise to the Top at the Career Fair

Office Politics: A Rise to the Top

It’s career fair week at UW-Whitewater! If you’re looking for a spring or summer internship (that’s spring and summer 2012), you will definitely want to attend the Hawk Career Fair this Wednesday, September 28 from noon to 4 pm in the Williams Center, Gym 1.

44 of the 111 employers coming to the fair are looking to connect with potential interns. You can pull up this list by logging into Hawk Jobs and going through the “Career Fairs & Workshops” page or finding it on the Home page as an Upcoming Event.

How to Be Prepared

  • Get your resume ready. At this point, it’s ideal if your resume is good to go. Now, get your print copies prepared. Print your resume on high quality, thicker paper. No regular printer paper here. Gray or off-white are good color selections. You can pick up “resume paper” from the UWW Bookstore or you can find heavier stock paper at Walmart. Print out several copies, enough to hand out to the employers you wish to talk to.
  • Figure out who you want to talk to. With over 100 employers attending, Gym 1 is going to be a packed place. Develop a plan of attack well before the fair. First, access the list of attending employers, search to identify who might be offering the types of opportunities you’re looking for, and start doing your research. When you arrive at the fair, the list of employers with a corresponding map of the gym will be available to help you find your way around.
  • Set out your career fair outfit. The preferred attire for the Hawk Career Fair is business professional. At a minimum, come in business casual dress. Whatever you wear, make sure that it is clean, wrinkle-free, and conservative.
  • Leave the backpack at home. Yes, you’re a student and obviously the employers know it. Nonetheless, employers need to envision you as a professional. Backpacks scream student and throw off the image you want to project. Instead, pick up a nice portfolio (you can find UWW ones at the Bookstore) to carry your resumes in. If you get one that has a pad of paper in it, write down the questions you’ve prepared for your target employers and bring a pen to jot down any notes as you go.
  • Practice your self-pitch. Career fairs are really just networking events. You will be approaching recruiters that you’ve never met before, so first impressions are very important. Make a solid impression by having a well-prepared introduction that captures your personal brand. This also includes a handshake. Practice shaking hands with your friends or roommates until it’s just right.

I wish you all the best as you attack the career fair. I hope you make some good connections and that those connections lead to opportunities.

Photo by Alex Proimos

Welcome to the Fall 2011 Semester!

Back to school

Welcome Back Warhawks! I trust that the first week of classes went smoothly, and I hope you’re ready to get back into the school groove. Hopefully part of your 2011-2012 plans include an internship (or two).

Here’s a little look at what you might have missed over the summer and what you should definitely take advantage of this fall:

  • Confessions of a Summer Intern – For the second summer in a row, I recruited a group of four UWW interns to share their summer internship experiences with the masses. Alysondra, Gabby, Erin, and Sarah were all over the internships “map.” We learned what it’s like to be a virtual intern, we experienced what our nation’s capital has to offer interns, we headed oversees to London, and we got an insider’s view into a local powerhouse. If you missed any of the series this summer, definitely check it out!
  • Resume Dr. – Did you know that September is International Update-Your-Resume Month? I didn’t either until I saw it on Twitter last Tuesday. Get in the spirit by checking in at one of our first Resume Dr. events for the year:
    • Tuesday, September 20 – 9:00am to Noon – Hyland Hall Atrium
    • Wednesday, September 21 – 10:00am to 1:00pm – University Center Concourse
    • Thursday, September 22 – 1:00pm to 4:00pm – Andersen Library
  • Hawk Career Fair – Don’t miss out on the biggest UWW career fair of the year! Approximately 100 employers attend this annual event to recruit, and many come looking for more than just full-time employees. Internships make up a large segment of the available opportunities. Find the list of fair attendees and opportunities being recruited for on Hawk Jobs: www.uww.edu/career/hawkjobs.php.
  • Intern Spotlight – Did you have an awesome internship experience this summer? Or are you anticipating that your fall internship is going to rock? Then you definitely need to consider applying to be UWW Intern of the Month and be featured in our “Intern Spotlight”! If you’re not there yet, the Intern Spotlight is still very beneficial. Read UWW interns’ stories and learn from their experiences.

Be sure to hit the ground running when it comes to your internship search. I’ve already met with students planning for Summer 2012! It’s awesome!! Haven’t even come close to thinking that far ahead yet? Get going! The competition is already ahead of you…

If you want some one-on-one advising on your internship search, be sure to schedule an appointment with me, your trusty Internship Coordinator. Just contact Career & Leadership Development at 262-472-1471 or drop by the office (UC 146 – up the ramps/stairs across from Willie’s 360/Freshens-side).

Beyond the in-person meetings, connect with me on Twitter. I tweet about current internship openings, and I share articles and tips to help in your search. I can also answer basic questions there – just send me a “reply” or “direct message” and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

Wishing you all the best for the 2011-2012 academic year and in your quest for an amazing internship!

Photo by Avolore