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Internships 101

  • What is an Internship?

    Internships allow you to gain career related experience outside of the classroom while exploring your interests, passions, and abilities. A variety of internship options are available including ones taken for academic credit, for pay, and during the fall, spring, or summer semester.

    An internship is a monitored work experience that allows students to engage in academic learning while developing their skill sets and learning more about potential career paths.

  • Why Get an Internship?
    • Gain valuable work experience in your major, which will make you a more attractive candidate for future employment
    • Earn academic credit (varies by major and institution)
    • Apply classroom knowledge in a realistic work environment
    • Build a strong resume
    • Develop a network of contacts in your chosen career field for future opportunities and references
    • Test your skills and interests
    • Solidify your career goals
    • Earn compensation
    • Secure a job before graduation
    • Increase self-awareness and confidence
    • Meet potential future employers at internship site
    • Network and make professional contacts
    • Establish connections between theory & practice
    • Develop professional knowledge and skills
    • Gain hands-on experience
    • Enhance your skill set and develop new skills
    • Gain an understanding of the qualifications and skills needed to succeed in a profession
    • Explore a career field of interest and partake in some day-to-day duties
  • What to Expect from an Internship
    • Be an active participant in your internship and ask questions! This ensures you are completing tasks correctly and gives you a chance to learn more about the duties involved in a particular line of work.
    • Keep a record of your daily activities and things you learn during your internship. This will help when reflecting back on the internship or for assessment of the experience at the end of the semester.
    • Receive mentorship and feedback.
    • Apply what you've learned in the classroom to the real-world work environment.
    • Spend no more than 20% of your time doing clerical or administrative duties- remember, this is a professional experience!
    • Work a minimum 100-150 hours a semester.
    • Be paid or unpaid.
  • The Resume
    • Proofread your documents and make sure they are error-free
    • Include how your skills relate to the position
    • Visit your Career Center for a critique
    • Keep length of document to one page
    • Use action words when describing your qualifications
  • Contacting Internship Sites
    • Practice pronouncing the contact person's name correctly
    • Keep a copy of your resume with you to refer to details about your skills and experience
    • Select a quiet time and area to place the call so you can sound professional
    • Practice what you will say and how you will project enthusiasm
    • Place the call
    • Identify yourself and ask for the internship contact person
    • Repeat your introduction to the contact person and state your interest
    • Determine if intern applications are still being accepted; if desired position is not available ask about other opportunities
    • Send cover letter and resume directly to employers
    • Respond promptly to all employers who call to arrange interviews. Follow up by phone with all employers who do not call you within 2-4 business days
  • Before the Interview
    • Research the organization
    • Confirm directions to location
    • Make sure your interview attire is clean and pressed
    • Review the job description and your resume
    • Prepare your 60 second commercial
    • Prepare a list of 2-3 questions
  • Basic Interview Tips
    • Arrange and go on interviews with potential employers
    • Practice driving to the internship location and allow time for traffic and parking
    • Exhibit professional dress and demeanor
    • Bring professional copies of your resume and cover letter
    • Bring a copy of your portfolio if applicable/appropriate
    • Arrive 10-15 minutes early
  • Day of Interview
    • Arrive early (10-15 minutes)
    • Dress professionally
    • Come prepared with
      • Extra copies of your resume
      • Pen and paper
      • Reference list
    • Be a good listener
    • Be sure to sell yourself, your skills, and your interest in the internship
    • Answer questions accurately and honestly
    • Use proper grammar and language (no slang!)
    • Pay attention to your body language
  • After the Interview
    Send a thank-you note. Follow up with the employer as specified in the timeline to check the status of your application.
  • Cover Letters
    • Cover letters serve as an introduction to your resume. This is your opportunity to get the employer excited to learn about you and your skills and experience.
    • The cover letter allows you to get specific and tailor information from your resume to individual employers.
    • Your cover letter is not your resume, so make sure they are different. Don't just restate everything that's in your resume, focus on the details that are key for this particular position.
    • Try to sell yourself. You haven't gotten the job yet, so you need to prove to the company why you are the best employee for them, not why they are the best company for you.
  • How to Impress Employers
    • Establish 2-3 learning objectives; set parameters and goals and discuss them with your supervisor.
    • Show initiative; ask, don't wait for projects to be given to you. Avoid being underused!
    • Be proactive. If the work isn't meeting your goals make sure you let your coordinator know. This is supposed to be a beneficial experience so you have a right to be challenged. Speak up if the work is not meeting your goals and expectations.
    • Do your best to impress. You should do what you can to exceed expectations. The people you impress now can serve as great references later, and who knows, if you do your best they might just offer you a job.
    • Demonstrate maturity and exceed your supervisor's expectations.
    • Be on time, look presentable, and be professional!
  • Networking

    Make the most of meetings and social events. These are great opportunities to learn more about the company you are working for and to also get a realistic feel for what it's like to be an employee there.

    Use your mentors - mentors are there to help you navigate the company and to serve as a resource. Mentors may also help you make connections with others. Your mentors might even provide references for you in the future!

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Student Stories

Rachel Thompson Towson Internship
Towson University
"I quickly realized there was a lot more to Baltimore than I could have possibly imagined. I was inspired by all of the work each community organization was doing to improve the Baltimore Metro Area."