Finding An Internship From A Student’s Perspective

When the other NASPA interns and I first came to Albany everyone assured us that the next weeks would fly bye and they absolutely have. We are now on our final week of interning. Some of us will be returning back to our undergraduate institutions and one intern will begin her graduate program in Higher Education Administration at Ohio State University in Columbus Ohio (Go Buckeyes!). Although I will return to Alfred in a few short weeks, I do not want to forget all I learned here. I have gained valuable experience, networked with amazing professionals and students, and was able to live on my own in a new city.  So for my second to last final blog post (I will be creating another shortly after I arrive at Alfred) I will be working backwards and talk briefly about how I found my internship, but more importantly about how other students can go about finding internships as well. There are an abundance of resources available for undergraduates to find internships and jobs. If you are looking to intern or even find a full-time job here are some places you should look and things you should do to have a successful internship search

  1. Career Services Office- every university has one. Locate yours and make your name known. The people in this office have a wealth of information that can help you with career search. Not only do they point you in the right direction, but these offices also offer resume critiques, practice interviews, and offer general career advice.  Schools like UAlbany even work with alumni, so you can get assistance even after you graduate.
  2. Word of Mouth- this is a small world. Sometimes you will not find out about internships online or even through your career services department on campus. A lot of internships are discovered through word of mouth. You can hear a lot about opportunities through people you know and it can sometimes give you a leg up. This is networking. Get to know a variety of people and just talk to them. Tell them that you’re interested in law and environmental science. They may know an environmental lawyer who is looking for help and they can pass this information down to you. I understand that the chances for that are slim, but they do not have to directly know this person, but can help you get in contact with someone who does. Do you know someone who currently works in a position you are interested in? Ask them if they can do an informational interview. These are very helpful because not only are you networking, you are finding out how this person got to the place they are now.
  3. Join A Professional Organization- I got my internship through NASPA, a professional association for student personnel administrators. There are a variety of professional organizations available. Chances are if you are interested in a particular career there is an association for it. These associations typically offer membership to students and the price to join is usually relatively cheap or sometimes even free! Joining these organizations shows you have a true interest in the field and it allows you to build a network, stay current, and maybe even get a mentor.
  4. Utilize Social Media- Most college students utilize social media on a daily basis, but there is a difference between using social media SOCIALLY and using it PROFESSIONALLY. Facebook is not my first choice for networking, but twitter and LinkedIn are phenomenal. Many employers post job openings directly on twitter and twitter makes it easy to communicate with professionals around the world. But remember keep your twitter professional, tweets should not be too personal.  If you want, you can even create two twitter accounts, one that is professional and one that is for your personal use, there are people who choose to use this option. LinkedIn is very important for college students. It is the ultimate networking site. You can go here to seek out career advice, connect with Alumni from your institution, and look for groups to join. If there is a group that you feel needs to be started then you can go ahead and start your own as well. If you are unsure about how to use social media sites ask someone you know who has a strong professional online presence. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn provides tutorials on how to utilize their products as well.

Just remember there is no template or blueprint on how to find a job or internship. How you go about your search is completely and entirely up to you. Cater it to your specific wants and needs. If you want to be a graphic designer create your own website and include the links on your Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. If you want to be a writer or journalist start a blog and gain followers. Sometimes it is OK to take a unconventional approach to finding the perfect fit for you, whether it is a job, internship, or even graduate school.

The Office vs. The Classroom

The transition from classroom to office can worry some students. Many of us see a drastic change in the two and wonder how well we will adapt. Although every office is different, the majority of them (hopefully) are nothing to fear. However there are some subtle differences between the two. As an intern you should be aware of the similarities in order to make the most out of your internship. If you understand both the striking similarities and the subtle differences it can lead to a rewarding internship for both you and your supervisor. Unlike college, projects won’t always come with a deadline. But just because your supervisor does not give you a “due date” does not mean you can procrastinate. You will be given a lot of autonomy and independence. Once your supervisor delegates a task or project to you, it is up to you to finish it in a timely manner. This is vastly different from college, where a professor might give you a specific date of completion. Interning provides great experience in tracking your own progress, setting internal deadlines, managing time, and working independently. Without your supervisor telling you when to get things done, you are forced to look at your schedule and find out how to best complete the task on your own.

Many students acknowledge that there is a barrier between both professor and student. They teach you however many days a week and you visit them during office hours and that is as far as the extent of the relationship goes. Your supervisor is nothing like a professor in this retrospect. There are not as many barriers set up the way that there is between some professor student relationships. As an intern you are basically an employee and you will be treated that way. So your relationship with everyone in the office will be on more than a hi and bye basis. You will actually get to know the people you are working with. Do not fear that the office place is a cold, dreary, and always serious. Yes professionals are here to do a job, but you will find that the occasional joke will be cracked. Career Services has a welcoming atmosphere and although the office is very quiet, everyone is friendly and willing to talk. So do not be afraid to approach your supervisor or others in the office for quick chats. You can learn a lot in a five minute conversation with a person who has been in the working world for a long time. So although professors are not always very approachable, people in the office usually are willing to help an intern with any questions or concerns they have.

Dress code. Some places are business casual some are business formal. One thing I can guarantee is that if you are working in an office you will not be able to wear sweatpants and a t-shirt like you do to go to class in college. In college students can be seen wearing sweats and even pajamas to class, but in an office environment this is unacceptable.  If you are unsure about how to dress, over dress the first couple of days and then adapt depending on what everyone else is wearing. Here in Career Services it is business casual for the most part. And since Fridays at UAlbany is spirit Fridays a purple t shirt is even acceptable. So get to know your office and pay attention to what everyone else is wearing.

If you do not use your calendar in college be prepared to use it in the office at your internship. The calendar is where everyone schedules their day and it helps the office run smoothly. In Career Services the calendar lets us know who is available to take appointments with students and alumni and who is not. Another reason the calendar is important because believe it or not it will help you manage your time. You will have meetings, presentations, and tasks you will be working on. You do not want to forget any of these things, so the be sure to use your calendar and find a place where you can write yourself a checklist of what needs to be done every day.

Most college classes require you to take notes. You will take notes during your internship, not because it’s expected of you, but because you will need to. A lot of information will be relayed to you on a day to day basis. To keep track of it all you will want to write things down. Don’t trust your memory. I would recommend getting a portfolio that way you can have all your notes in one place.

Interning is a great way to try out a career. You can find out if you enjoy a particular field or if it is no longer something you want to do. Either way you want to make the most out of your internship because at the end of the day work experience in an unrelated field is infinitely better than no work experience at all.

More Art Than Science

I have been working at career services for 2 and a half weeks. One of the main services Career Services provides is resume critiques. These past few weeks I have shadowed various professionals helping current students and recent graduates with their resumes. There was a veteran student looking for full time work, a recent graduate looking for research opportunities, and a student who was looking for a career change. One thing that I can say is that no one resume critique is the same. Besides a few things that stay continuously constant, such as always including your name, address, and telephone number, every resume is different. Overall I have learned that a resume is more “art than science”. What does this mean? That there is no scientific formula on how to create your resume. There are many ways to tailor it to your specific needs and there is no concrete solution. You and your friend could have the same major, be involved in the exact same activities, and have the same job experience, but can end up with two very different resumes. Here are some other things I have learned since I have been at career services, some may seem obvious, but hopefully some will be helpful to you.

1. The PROVE IT method. Many times on a resume a person might write something such as “I assisted with the school’s annual fundraiser” as one of their bullet points on their resume. But what does this tell the potential employer? Not much. You need to elaborate. You assisted by doing what, handling customer questions, giving out brochures, etc. Also what was the outcome? Did your school raise a significant amount of money, if so quantify. Numbers jump out on a resume. This is what has been termed the prove it function. Do not just list what you did; explain what skills you used to do it and how it was successful.

2. Be Top Heavy. Everyone has heard that the amount of time spent on a resume is at maximum a half a minute. To use this to your advantage make your resume top heavy, that means putting the most important experience on top because that is what the employer will see first. So for example your first bullet should be where you put your most important, significant, and relevant job experiences and skills. This will be the first thing the person reviewing your resume will see, once he or she reaches the 3rd bullet point their eyes will start to scan instead of actually reading.

3. Action Verbs. You want to start off every bullet you have with an action verb. It grabs the hiring manager’s attention and gives them a clear view of what you actually did. The use of verbs like organized, developed, analyzed, and coordinate can be very powerful.

4. Delete the Fluff. Typically, if you are an entry level employer your resume will be one page. Do not waste this space. It is very important, and you need to fill it with experiences that are relevant to your job or internship search. So even if you might be extremely proud that you won your town’s annual pie eating contest it has nothing to do with that Accounting internship you are applying for. So delete the fluff. High school education, irrelevant experiences, and personal interests have no place on a resume.

5. Style Matters. When creating your resume you should make it a point to keep the formatting style neat, clear, and organized. Human resources are reviewing a lot of resumes per job, so you want to make sure yours will not be difficult to read. A cluttered, messy, and unorganized resume can land straight in to the no pile. So have someone else read your resume and see if it they can read it easily. This can help you determine if your font is too small, if you need to reorganize or even fix your margins.

First Day Of Blogging

Hi, My name is Brittney McFadden and I have decided to blog about my experiences as a Student Affairs Career Services Intern. I know many of you may not know what student affairs is, but we will get back to that later. I am a rising junior at Alfred University majoring in History and I am originally from Brooklyn, NY. I am a NUFP Fellow, collegiate basketball player, member of the Women’s Leadership Academy, and a First Year RA. Ok, back to what student affairs is. Student Affairs encompasses a variety of services and offices in a given institution of higher education that relates to a student’s success, whether it be health, career, or academic. At least that is how I see student affairs. Think of all the departments at your school, the Health Center, the Counseling Center, and Career Services, all of these offices are a part of Student Affairs. It is a broad profession, as I keep learning everyday, but also a very enriching one. So this summer through the NUFP Summer Internship program I was able to secure a job in Career Services at the University at Albany. And so far it has been great. There are also other interns here working with Res Life, Student Activities, and Multicultural Students. One of my reasons for writing this blog is so that I can use it as a way to reflect and remember all the cool things I get to do this summer. SUNY Albany has a huge student population of about 19,000 students, which is larger than my school, which has at a maximum 2.500 students. But I have noticed regardless of the size of the institution, many colleges offer the same services. So both SUNY Albany and my school offer career advisement, resume critiques, practice interviews, and job fairs. So throughout the summer I will continue to blog about my experiences here in Albany as I learn more about Career Services and venture to other offices such as Student Activities, Budget and Finance, and Judicial Affairs .


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