Career Columns: Finding Internships

Looking for the perfect summer experience that will be both career-enriching and enjoyable? Did you miss the internship fair last week? Not to fret: Peer Career Advisors to the rescue!

We’ve all had that moment of panic when our friends talk about their exciting opportunities for the upcoming break, and we have just barely gotten our resume approved. New internship listings, however, are posted every day, and if you’re reading this now, you’ve still got plenty of time to get the ball rolling.

Here is a basic guideline to searching for that dream summer job:

For those just getting started:
• Quest: Log into Quest and spend a bit of time browsing around the possible opportunities that are available to you. In the right margin you’ll see a link to the “Spotlight on Careers” website, which gives useful advice about breaking into specific industries, such as resume and interview tips and sample internships in that field.
• Browse: Once you’ve narrowed down your interests, browse through the various Career Center databases available under the “Jobs and Internships” heading on the main page.
• Resume: To move on to the next step, you’ll have to face your fear of the Career Center and actually come in to see one of your wonderful PCAs. We’ll help you get your resume approved so that you can apply to the positions you find in Quest!

For those a bit farther along:
• Targeting: Have you made sure your resume is targeted to the specific position? Even if you’ve come to see us for resume-approval, come back (it’s less scary the second time; we promise!) and talk to us about tailoring your application and perfecting your cover letter.
• Funding: If you’re applying to unpaid internships and are starting to worry about expenses, there are several sources of Amherst funding that you can apply for. The CCE offers funding under the Civic Engagement Scholars program, the details of which (including deadlines) are located on the Career Center website, under “Internships and Summer Funding.” For those of you who are likely to stick around for the summer doing research, take a look at the funding available from the Dean of Faculty and your academic departments. Other sources of funding exist too, including personal fundraising and funding from outside organizations.
• Networking: Reaching out to alums can help you explore opportunities within a field and build relationships for the future. We’ve all heard the crazy networking success stories! Note: you should never write to an alum with the express purpose of asking for a job. See the Career Center website or a lovely PCA for tips on navigating the social awkwardness that you may feel.

For the overachievers:
• Interviews: So you’ve decided what opportunities you’d like to pursue and have already gotten a head start on applications? When your dream company offers you an interview and you momentarily panic, just call the Career Center to set up a mock interview to brush up on your self-presentation.
• Thank you cards: It’s easy to space on this important way of showing your interest in a position or gratitude towards a helpful contact, but make sure you send a thank you note to anyone who has helped you in your search for the perfect internship. Paper notes are the classy way to go, but if you know you’re working with a short turnaround time, e-mailed notes to all of your interviewers are acceptable.

A note for seniors:
After four years of applying for internships you might have thought that was in the past. However, an internship after senior year is a great way to break into a field you hadn’t previously considered or just want to further explore before committing to the big, bad world of “jobs.” Some internships have the possibility of turning into a full-time position; regardless you’ll have another long list of contacts and references in the field, so you can kick some serious butt in your next experience.