By Amy Doehrman
Each semester hundreds of students scramble to find the perfect internship- you know the one in DC, with a stipend that fills job opening with interns… We fill out endless applications (forwarded from our beloved Paul Welch), update our resumes and scramble for letters of reference all in the hopes of solidifying summer plans. Internships build resumes, make contacts and provide content for our parents’ Facebook page. In all seriousness, internships are the perfect opportunity to bridge the gap between theory and application and allow us to discover career paths we never even considered. Over the course of my college career, I have had several internships that have provided me with great contacts, memories and ultimately landed a full time job post-grad.
Here area few lessons I have learned along the way, I hope they help!
YOU CANT GET IT IF YOU DON’T APPLY
Apply for the internship… even if you aren’t proficient in Microsoft Office (Excel is a double edged sword). So often we don’t pursue an internship opportunity out of fear of being rejected. I did this very thing after several unfruitful application processes; meanwhile my friends were landing incredible internships all over the world. When I finally decided to give internship applications another go, I applied to work in a Congressional office and like many: 1) I had no experience in politics or campaigning 2) I had ZERO intention or desire to work in the political world. Fast forward…. I got the internship, really enjoyed it, gained 7 credit hours and made a contact that ultimately landed me a full-time job.
COURSE CREDIT SAVES LIVES
If you aren’t getting paid, or even if you are, you might as well get closer to graduation. SPIA allows you to earn varying levels of course credit for a variety of internships- this is a great way to lighten the load during those semesters when you have 3 IA class.
AVOID THE RESUME TRAP
All internships are valuable; do NOT discount working for local campaigns and non-profit organizations. You never know who you might meet or the incredible impact you may have. Additionally, keep in mind that smaller organizations and local government offices are far more likely to utilize you for more than answering the phone and making copies.
TEST DRIVE YOUR CAREER PATH
I have interned with a non-profit in Romania, a district congressional office and a political party all of which have played an integral role in shaping my future and cultivating my passions. It is to my betterment that I have been able to dip my toes into so many different fields. Every internship has helped me with the next and allowed me to discover different career paths that I otherwise would not have considered.
TREAT IT LIKE IT IS YOUR DREAM JOB (even if it isn’t)
Good old fashion hard work goes along way. Be present and go above and beyond and you just might land yourself a job! A GREAT work ethic and a “can-do” attitude can be far more valuable than years of experience.
WHY AM I HERE?
Working for a non-profit in Romania, I learned so much about non-profit work, other cultures and the politics of a developing country in the European Union. As a constituent services intern for a Congressman, I was introduced to the ins and outs of government agencies and the complexities of government/constituent relations. Interning and working in finance for a political party has fully immersed me into the world of fundraising, campaigning and grassroots initiatives. Throughout your internship(s), take time to reflect each week and draw on what you have learned thus far. Taking time to learn what you are learning validates the time you are putting in and also makes for great answers in future job interviews. Internships are not only a great way to bolster your resume and make contacts, but are, in my opinion, the BEST learning opportunities.
Internships are great!