Winter Break: Gear Up Time for Your Summer Internship Search

I can barely believe that winter break is already upon us. The fall semester flew by, and I’m guessing this spring semester will do the same. This means that summer – and its abundant internships – will be here before we know it.

Winter scenery

For my last post of the fall semester, I want to leave you with some things to do over the winter break to be prepared for your summer internship search. Opportunities will begin popping up in late January/early February, so you will want to be ready to take advantage of them. Here we go…

1. Get that resume ready!

It probably goes without saying, but you will need a resume in order to apply for most internships. And if great internships start getting posted and you don’t have that resume ready, you are going to be behind many of your peers. The break is an ideal time to work on your resume. No assignments, no papers, and no studying leave plenty of time to focus. I have written about internship resumes before, so check out these posts:

2. Google yourself and act accordingly.

Have you Googled yourself lately… or ever? If you are going to apply for internships, it’s a good idea. With the high potential for employers to scope you out online, you will want to be ahead of the game and know what’s out there. And if you’re strategic, you can start to mold your online presence and make it a positive one. Check out this thorough SlideShare presentation to help you get started:

3. Start building a profile on LinkedIn.

I refer to LinkedIn as your resume meets Facebook. It’s your professional social network, and it’s never been easier for students to build profiles on the site. LinkedIn takes your resume to a new level and will help you develop your professional network. Where do you begin? Check out the LinkedIn resources on our Career Resources website and read over the following articles:

Other social media sites can be beneficial as well. For tips, read Six Sites Every Potential Intern Must Be On.

Wishing you a relaxing, yet productive, winter break! “See” you in late January!

What is one thing that you will definitely accomplish over the winter break?

Photo by Bernt Rostad

Avoid Intern Burnout

Welcome back from the short Thanksgiving break. I can hardly believe it’s the last week of November already, and I have no idea where the fall semester went. The next few weeks won’t make it any better.

‘Tis the season for high burnout potential.


If you are a current intern, you are entering a high-stress time. You’ll be wrapping up your internship. Final exams are looming. Mixed with the holidays, there is a lot going on.

Don’t crash and burn. Here are some tips for avoiding intern burnout as the fall semester comes to an end:

  • Get plenty of sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, you can’t function. And with so much going on at this time of the year, you can’t afford to not be at your best. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. And when you start thinking that pulling an all-nighter is a good idea, remember that most people regret it the next morning. If you need ideas for improving your sleep habits, check out these sleep tips for college students.
  • Be active every day. If you regularly work out, keep up your routine. If you’ve been relatively inactive, start incorporating more activity into your day. Whatever you do, don’t overdo it. For the active types, this isn’t the time to start training for a marathon. For those new to working out, take things easy with simple, short walks. And for some relaxing fitness, try yoga. Take a yoga class or pick up a yoga DVD. Stretching is important for overall well-being and it will help calm your mind, too.
  • Eat healthy the majority of the time. At this time of the year, food indulgences are the name of the game. Partake in this seasonal yumminess, but do so in moderation. It’s one thing to stuff yourself on Thanksgiving. It’s a whole other problem if you eat like that every day. Eating well – healthy, balanced meals and snacks – is as important as sleep to keep you functioning.
  • Learn to say NO. Obligations can come flying at you from every direction at this time of the year. Can you work longer hours? Can you help a friend study for his/her exams? Can you go to this party or that event? You don’t have to say yes to everything, and saying no doesn’t make you a bad person. Keep in mind one of my favorite sayings: Saying no is saying yes to yourself.

How are you taking care of yourself as the semester ends? What suggestions do you have for avoiding burnout as a student?

Photo by Andrew Malone

Give and You Shall Receive

You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again: Internships are important. According to YouTern, “9 out of 10 direct-from-college hires to go those with internship experience on their resumes.” Employers that I talk with tell me that they look for candidates with related experience, the kind typically gained through internships.

You know that an internship benefits you. But have you ever thought about how an internship benefits an employer? Start thinking about it if you want that internship or if you want to be a successful intern.

Thank you Card

When Applying for an Internship…

  • Your resume is about you, but not really about you. Yes, your resume and cover letter provide details on your skills and experiences that qualify you for the internship. But when it comes to crafting your resume, it should speak to an employer’s needs. For example, let’s say you are applying for a PR Internship and you’ve already had some PR experience (like a previous internship). Instead of lumping that PR experience into a general “Experience” section with all of your other jobs, break it out into a “PR Experience” section. Help the reader clearly see that you have the experience they’re looking for.
  • Be careful with those Objective Statements. More often than not, I read Objectives on students’ resumes that are all about themselves: “To obtain an internship that allows me to gain experience, use my communication skills…blah, blah, blah.” If you are going to use an Objective Statement on your resume, keep it simple: “To obtain the ______ Internship with ________ (name of organization).” Don’t go into a long diatribe about what the internship will do for you.
  • The same goes for that cover letter. Just as with your resume, your cover letter is about you. However, the letter is about you in the context of what you bring to the table. How will your background benefit the employer? Have you worked in a similar environment? Have you done similar work successfully in the past?
  • Don’t forget to send a thank you note. This one should be self-explanatory. If you have an interview, make sure to follow up with a thank you note. Thank the interviewer for his/her time. Incorporate elements from your conversation, something that highlights what you will bring to the position. Showcase your appreciation for the opportunity and a genuine interest in their organization and the position.

During Your Internship…

  • There is never nothing to do. So, you finished all of your assigned work for the day. Do you sit back and relax until it’s time to leave? No, you don’t. Ask your co-workers if they need any help. Look around you for a new project to tackle. Work ahead on existing projects. Bottom line: Do something.
  • Be grateful for the opportunity. Not everyone does an internship before they graduate. For some, this might be by choice. For others, opportunities don’t pan out. Either way, you are fortunate for having the opportunity to work in a professional setting doing the work you want to do when you graduate. So, say thank you. Do small things like providing a co-worker a recommendation on LinkedIn. Share your great experience with others, such as through our Intern of the Month feature.

Yes, an internship will provide you with experience that boosts your resume and makes you a marketable candidate. But as an intern, you are there to do something for that employer, too. The right frame of mind, hard work, and gratefulness will pay off in your favor big time!

Photo by Jon Ashcroft

Professional Bags for Men

Starting an internship means leaving the student world and entering the professional world. It’s time to look the part and ditch the backpack.

So what’s wrong with a backpack? Let me ask you – Why do you use a backpack? Is it because you’re a student and need it to carry your books and supplies? The answer is probably yes.

In this environment, a backpack making you look like a student is expected and normal. But in the workplace, you want to be seen as a professional. Looking like a professional helps you to be taken more seriously by co-workers, which is particularly important as an intern. And if you hope that your internship translates into a job, then making a good impression through your work AND overall image will help make that a reality.

For women, the backpack alternative is easier to find. But what about the men? Here are some examples of appropriate work bags for men:

Leather Excursion Messenger Bag – Red Envelope

Columbian Leather Messenger Bag – Kenneth Cole Reaction

Classic Messenger Bag – Timbuk2

This last example is better suited for a more casual workplace. But given the neutral color, it could work in a business casual environment.

For more professional wardrobe ideas, check out my boards on Pinterest:

Men – Are you using a professional looking bag when you go to work?

Intern Spotlight: Katelyn Wurtz

Katelyn Wurtz

Katelyn Wurtz, Senior (May 2014)
Major: Special Education
Internship: SEAL Management Intern with UW-Whitewater Career & Leadership Development

How did you find out about this internship? What interested you in the opportunity?

About two years ago, I was a member of the Event Crew on campus, where we would staff any Special Events on campus. Through this position, there were occasions when we would staff larger SEAL (Student Entertainment Awareness League) events should they need it. I had already attended numerous comedians and movies on campus that were sponsored by SEAL; therefore, I felt that I had an idea of what SEAL was. I loved the idea of providing the campus with events like the hilarious comedians and great musicians that I had seen throughout my years on campus. I decided to apply in the spring of 2011, got an interview, and was later hired as the Community Service Intern on SEAL. This past spring, I reapplied and am currently the Management Intern on SEAL. Considering that this process is a different process than your average internship, it did not take as long to secure it. It was an application and interview process which then led to summer training.

Describe your internship experience.

Since I have had two different intern positions on SEAL these past two years, I have had different responsibilities. Last year, as the Community Service Intern, I coordinated the America Reads program on campus where students could sign up to volunteer in the local schools helping students in their academics. I also took part in planning Freeze Fest/Special Olympics Wisconsin Polar Plunge and our annual Make a Difference Day.

This year, as the Management Intern, I have the responsibility for the day-to-day operations of SEAL. I am also responsible for collaborating and reaching out to student organizations on campus. Since SEAL provides events for free or at a low cost, we try to market our events as much as possible to get the campus to attend. This is why I try to reach out to those organizations to get a larger, diverse population to attend these events.

What have you learned during your internship experience? How does this opportunity relate to your career goals?

Through this internship, I have gained many leadership skills as well as skills that I can apply to the real world after college. I have progressively bettered my public speaking skills through this internship and although I still struggle at times, I know that over the past few years I have gained those skills to help better my public speaking.

As an education major, I know that I will be a leader of my classroom at some point in the near future. At the same time, I also know that on a daily basis I will be speaking in public (or my classroom). My students will hopefully look up to me as someone that is a reliable, responsible source that they can come to when in need. I have learned that it takes a lot to be a leader including diligence, responsibility and organization.  Even though this internship is not directly working in a classroom or related to my major, I have found that all of the skills that I have gained through my internship can be applied to my future in teaching.

What advice would you give other students about internships?

As a leader on campus, I have come to the conclusion that no matter where you go, know that there is a good chance that someone will see the actions that you make, whether they be good or bad.

I would tell other students who are applying for internships to make good decisions when outside of the workplace. By outside of the workplace, I am not necessarily saying at the bars or at a party, but anywhere. As we all know, Facebook and Twitter are huge parts of our society right now. It is important to be careful about what you post because although you may not be friends with someone, it is possible that a friend of yours is friends with another person who can or may report back information that you thought was private.

Overall, an internship can be a huge step towards your future career. You choose what you want to get out of your internship and personally, I recommend that you get the most out of it! Besides, you can only benefit from getting the most out of it! You may realize that the path you are taking is not for you—but at least you will realize it earlier than later. At the same time, you may realize that you made a good choice and would like to stay with the company you are working for in the future. Therefore, my biggest piece of advice would be to try to get the most out of your internship as possible because it can only benefit you!

What did Katelyn’s supervisor have to say?

Katelyn is always trying to better herself as a student and as a professional. She takes every piece of criticism to heart and is always trying to improve. This is all I can ask for out of an intern I supervise. 

As a Leadership Advisor in the office of Career & Leadership Development, I have had the opportunity to work with several students and rarely do I meet a student who is as passionate about a students’ overall college experience than Katelyn is. Katelyn joined SEAL because she wanted to assist in making UW-Whitewater a great place for all students. Katelyn has consistently shown that she is an advocate for students, which is an important characteristic for someone who is a leader on campus.

Congratulations Katelyn on being selected as UW-Whitewater Intern of the Month for November 2012!

Are you having or have you had an outstanding internship experience like Katelyn? Tell employers, faculty, and, of course, fellow UW-Whitewater students what makes/made your internship experience so great! Be featured in the Intern Spotlight! To learn more, visit the UWW Intern of the Month Program page.

Be sure to check out past featured students’ stories as well!