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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.