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 Internships.com. 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
Signing up for LinkedIn and beginning your profile is a huge step in building your professional network. At first, you start connecting with fellow students and professionals you already know. But is that all there is? Not at all!
Use Groups on LinkedIn to take your networking to the next level. There are groups for almost everything. Some groups connect professionals with similar work interests. Most universities have alumni groups (like Alumni of UWW), which you can join even as a student. Many professional associations have groups, and you might be able to join as a non-member. Do a search for Groups, by keyword or category, and start joining.
So how do you use Groups effectively once you’ve joined?
- Be sure to get the Digest Email. Either once a day or once a week, you can have all group activity sent to your inbox. For most of my groups, I get a weekly digest. Thanks to that email, I can catch up on all the different discussions, shared articles, and job postings from the group that week. Thanks to those emails, I have stumbled upon internships that I’ve then shared with students. Visit the “More…” tab in each group and select “Your Settings” to set up your Digest Email preferences.
- Ask questions. What do companies look for in entry-level employees? What is the best way to gain experience in your field? What do employers really think of infographic resumes? Who better to ask these questions of than professionals in your field! Use your LinkedIn Groups to seek answers to your burning career questions. Not only will you get answers, but you might start making some new connections as well. Keep in mind that some groups have more active discussions than others. Take note of how actively engaged a group is before investing too much time in a discussion that might garner no response.
- Contribute to discussions. As a student, it’s great to ask questions of a LinkedIn Group to learn more about your field. But remember, you have knowledge and opinions to contribute, too. Networking is a two-way street – People help you and you help in return. Students often think that they have nothing to give, but this is not necessarily the case. See what kinds of questions others are asking or what information others are putting out for discussion. Have a thought? Say it!
LinkedIn Groups are a great resource, and an often overlooked one by novice users. Take advantage of the wealth of knowledge and information available through groups – It benefits you as an intern and will take you far as a future professional.
Are you on LinkedIn? I am happy to report that I am connecting with more and more students on LinkedIn. And when I speak with students, whether one-on-one or in a class, I am pleasantly surprised to hear that many have joined LinkedIn already or are at least familiar with it. Progress!
When LinkedIn first started gaining in popularity, it was challenging for students to work with the tool. If you didn’t have a lot of work experience – or any work experience for that matter – you were pretty much out of luck for completing a profile. Over the past couple of years, however, LinkedIn has become much more student friendly. New sections are making it easier to showcase your college experiences.
As a student looking for an internship, you can make your LinkedIn profile more productive by adding some of these new sections:
- Organizations – If you are involved, this is a must-add. When you add an organization, you can include a line for positions you hold or have held. You can also give a description, which can be especially helpful if the organization is unique to UW-Whitewater.
- Courses – Just as you might list relevant coursework on your resume, you can now add courses to your LinkedIn profile. List the actual course name (ex: PR Tactics), and instead of including the course number, enter the university where you took the course. While this might be unnecessary if all the courses were at one institution, it is useful for those of you who have transferred or who have taken relevant courses at another institution (ex. a computer course at a technical college for skill-building purposes).
- Projects – Ever had to complete an epic project for a class? Whether a group project or solo venture, there could be some good experience in there – experience with an end product, no less. Be thoughtful with your project title and add a clear, concise description. If the project can be found online, you can add the URL – great for multimedia students.
- Volunteer Experiences & Causes – Many employers highly value volunteer work. If you are a student seeking a future career in human services (i.e. psychology, social work), volunteer experience can be career-related experience – i.e. your internship. Now, you can highlight your volunteer work in it’s own section. Just like a job-job, you include the organization you work/worked with, your role, dates, and a description of your work.
- Skills – Along with Volunteer Experiences, this section has been a huge boost for student profiles. From a career exploration standpoint, you can discover the primary industry for a particular skill. For networking, you will see related LinkedIn Groups. You can also see related skills. If you are lacking in these related areas, keep an eye out for internships that will provide the opportunity to to build those skills.
Make your experience with LinkedIn even more valuable for your internship search by jazzing up your profile with these new sections. You will see the “Add sections” option right under your profile’s summary box. Of course, there is a lot more to LinkedIn, so I’m planning a few more LinkedIn posts for the semester to help both you and me make better use of this professional social network.
And if you aren’t on LinkedIn, check out the getting started resources on our Career Resources website.
What questions do YOU have about LinkedIn?
Photo by Sheila Scarborough
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
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