Semester internships

The under-utilized semester internship

WRITTEN BY: Administrator

You’re busy. Every day you balance demanding coursework, extracurricular activities, part-time jobs and a social life, leaving little time to consider anything else. But if you think about it, a semester internship can fit right into your schedule. You can make the experience work for you, rewarding you with academic credit, insight into your aspirations, invaluable contacts and the opportunity to be a part of a real company. Rick Gillis, a job search expert, tells students, “One summer internship is worth another year of college.”  That seems like an amazing opportunity, so why wait for the summer?

Semester vs. summer

Internships can lead to many exciting opportunities, so it’s important to start as soon as you’re ready. Although many don’t realize the possibility of semester internships, this time presents students with many advantages. Paying for an unpaid internship poses a problem for the summer months, but during the semester you’re already paying for room and board. Many colleges even minimize transportation costs by providing access to shared cars or reducing public transportation fees. Getting off campus is easy, and exploring the city outside your college can be rewarding.

Practically, applying for fall and spring internships is typically less competitive than the cutthroat scramble for summer positions. You can also use your semester internship to strengthen your resume and prepare you for the following summer’s application process.  

Many students wait until the summer after graduation to get involved in a summer internship. Although some may prefer it this way, it can actually hinder your chances of getting immediate employment. It is undoubtedly good experience, but waiting until summer to intern with a company who may not be looking to hire is a risk, especially after you’ve graduated and are in need of cash to begin paying off loans and paying for rent.

By interning during the school year, you can take the time to find a place that really appeals to you and maximize your role by taking initiative. You can even find an internship that builds off the passion that drives your current extracurricular activities.

The perfect internship for you

So, how do you find the elusive perfect internship? First, realize that the position right for you will be different than what your friends want. Take a moment to consider what you are looking for. Update your resume and think about the specific skills you would bring to a company. Figure out exactly how much time you have available. Then, to get inspired, imagine your dream internship and begin your search.  

An abundance of internship Web sites exist online, and they can be very effective resources. Many allow you to search by location and industry, narrowing down the thousands of postings available. If this seems overwhelming, you can also look on campus for assistance. Your school’s career center is there to help, and advisors can assist you focus on what interests you and provide alumni connections. Many schools are part of larger online databases that are only accessible to students, reducing competition and supplying more options.

If you have a specific interest, professors and departments can brainstorm ideas and point you in the right direction. Talk to friends and family; opportunities will appear in the unlikeliest places. Be open to suggestions and stay in contact with the companies you don’t end up working with because every connection you make might prove important later. Most importantly, be confident in your application and your work. A positive, self-assured intern will appeal to any employer.

Resources you need to find your semester internship

internzoo.com

By allowing students to search based on location, industry and keyword, this site will help you sift through the thousands of internships it offers. The website also lets you apply for positions directly online and prepares you for in-person and phone interviews.

idealist.org

This Web site is a comprehensive resource for everything in the non-profit community. They have plenty of job and internship postings, especially in college areas.

internjobs.com

College students and recent grads can find great internship and job opportunities here. The Web site is easy to use and connects students to employers for free.

internmatch.com

Open only to undergraduate students and grads, this Web site minimizes competition while providing a variety of internship opportunities on the West Coast. For students attending college in other places, it also gives great advice on making resumes and how to successfully apply for internships.

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