Internships to Careers

Leveraging Your Internship

By Jordan Bennett, Andy Dunning, and Kyle Sawyer

Employers are seeking more than just a college education, they want to see real work experience on resumes. One option is to get an internship.

UW-Eau Claire student Lucas Tork, a double major in Spanish and Organizational Communications, hopes to turn his internship into a career after graduation. Tork was an international business and marketing intern with RealityWorks, a company that develops interactive simulations and health awareness products used around the world. A May 2007 graduate, Tork feels his internship gave him a better understanding of the type of work he wants to do after graduation. He also believes it has given him a competitive advantage in the job market. “My internship at RealityWorks gave me real work experience to talk about in interviews,” said Tork.

A major concern Tork had when choosing an internship was whether it would turn into a promising career. Employers also share his concern. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) 2006 Experiential Education Survey, more than 75 percent of employers said the primary objective of their internship program is to feed their college hiring program. Fifty-three percent of the employers indicated that they turned their interns into full-time hires.

"My internship at RealityWorks gave me real work experience to talk about in interviews."

- Lucas Tork

Unfortunately, many students don’t know where to begin when searching for an internship. “Career Services is a good place for students to start their internship search,” according to Erin Leifker, the COB Career Services career and employment coordinator. Leifker works extensively with employers and COB faculty to develop internship sites for students. She also recommends students discuss internship opportunities with their academic adviser and attend campus-wide events, such as Internship Mania, Career Conference and the Nursing and Health Care Professional Career Fair.

Maximizing Your Internship Experience

  • Chart Your Course. Create a checklist of the skills you hope to learn, people you want to meet, and types of projects you'd like to work on before starting your internship. View the list as your internship progresses to ensure that you’re making the most of your experience.

  • Introduce Yourself to Company Executives. Most interns are too intimidated to say hello to upper management, so take the initiative when the opportunity presents itself.

  • Volunteer for Extra Assignments. Volunteer for extra assignments when things are slow. The more initiative and enthusiasm you show, the more responsibility you'll get.

  • Attend “Extracurriculars". Participate in field trips, brown-bag luncheons with executives, barbeques, sporting events, or any other internship experiences offered by your company.

  • Be Nice to Everyone. Gaining the respect of support staff is as important as winning the appreciation of executives. How you treated the department secretary can make a difference in whether you get a job offer after your internship.

  • Ask for a Recommendation. Ask your supervisor for a reference while your work is still fresh in their mind.

  • Stay in Touch. Periodic phone calls or emails to your co-workers after your internship has ended keeps your name fresh in their minds when hiring decisions are made.

Source: Mark Oldham & Samer Hamadeh, authors of America's Top Internships and The Internship Bible, published by Random House/Princeton Review Books

Jordan Benne, graduated during Interim 2006. Andy Dunning is a BSAD student from Hales Corner, WI. Kyle Sawyer is an accounting student from Mc Farland, WI. They wrote this article for a BCOM 306 class project.

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Finding an Internship

Erin Leifker offers the following tips for finding an internship.

Start Early. Start thinking about when and where you want to do an internship. Freshman year is NOT too early.

Meet with your Career and Employment Coordinator. Discuss searching, applying and interviewing for internships; learn how to use the resources in the Career Discovery Center.

Talk with your Advisor and your Professors. They have many contacts and are a good source of information on internship and employment opportunities.

Talk to your Peers. Ask questions about their internship experiences, and the steps they took to find them.

Attend On-Campus Events. Learn about internship opportunities and network with employers at Career Service events, such as Internship Mania, Career Conference, and Nursing and Health Care Professionals Career Fair.

Create a Resume and Cover Letter. Update your resume frequently and ask others to proof it. Tailor your resume and cover letter for each internship. Schedule an appointment with a Career Services associate at 836-2282 to review your resume and cover letter.

Use your Blugold CareerLink Account. Use Blugold Career Link to post your resume, search for internships and employment opportunities, and schedule interviews.

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