Opportunities to learn by doing, become fully engaged in an experience and self-reflection about the experience are instrumental to discovering your passion. Reflection is key because this will help you assess how the experience supports your career goals, contributes to your skill set and determines how your career exploration process and focus may need to be modified to support your long-term goals.
Take action now to build a strong resume!
Whether you intend to enter the job market upon graduation, or plan to apply to graduate school, internships will give you the experience you need to differentiate yourself from other candidates. Employers and graduate school committees are looking for graduates that have already taken the next step to becoming professionals in their field.
What is an internship?
An internship integrates career-related experience into an undergraduate education through participation in planned, supervised work. Across the Arts and Sciences, these opportunities can vary in many ways. Internships...
- may be paid or unpaid.
- may or may not earn academic credit.
- can be from 5 hours a week to 40 hours a week, part-time or full-time.
- can take place during the summer or during other semesters of the year.
- can last for one semester, part of one semester or extend over several semesters.
- may be off campus or can take place on campus.
- may be easy to obtain or obtained only through a competitive process that could include an audition, portfolio review or extensive interview.
- are completed before graduation.
- are different from a summer job.
A summer job is also a short-term work experience, but the work performed may or may not be related to your career interests. It is possible for a summer job for one student to be an internship for another. For example, a student who chooses to work at a TV station may do so for enjoyment and to earn money, while another may work to gain experience with production, script writing or audiovisual equipment in preparation for a career in broadcasting.
Regardless, the key is to get experience for your resume. Keep in mind that one experience will often lead to another: a summer job can provide you with the skills or experiences needed to secure a future internship.
Searching for an Internship
So you're ready to begin your internship search, but you don't know where to start. As a first step, ask yourself these five questions:
- Where do I want to do an internship? My hometown? Out of state?
- When do I want to do an internship?
- What type of work would I like to do? In what field?
- What type of organization would I like to work for? A large corporation? A non-profit agency? Government?
- What specific skills or experiences do I want to acquire?
Searching for an internship is a process, so be sure to start early, especially if you are interested in summer internships. Many employers recruit for summer internships during autumn semester or very early during spring semester. A few industries, such as the government, may recruit a whole year ahead.
Learn more about starting your internship search by viewing our web workshop Conducting an effective internship search. For proper viewing, download the file and open with Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat.
Also, consider taking advantage of these resources, guides and tip sheets provided by the Career Center:
Submitting a well-polished resume as part of your job application materials is critical, as this is often an employer's first step in determining if they want to invite you to interview with them. Learn more at the link above about how you can obtain a free resume review to receive valuable feedback about the effectiveness of your document and strategies for improving it.
Career Coaches can assist you with identifying and considering how specific resume builders such as internships will support your career goals and will suggest strategies for enhancing your candidacy for specific opportunities. These consultations are offered by appointment and an office-approved resume (obtained by working through our resume review process) is required. Click on the link above to learn more.
General Job Search Strategies
The guides found in General Job Search Strategies cover topics such as how to obtain letters of reference or recommendation, build your professional online presence, and maximize your effectiveness at a career fair. Additional resources housed here include job searching tools such as OhioMeansJobs.com, Handshake and other sites recommended by the Center for Career & Professional Success staff for learning about internship and employment opportunities.
Topics covered here include setting career goals and developing an action plan to achieve them. You can also learn more about your chosen career field and browse others.
Review guides and tip sheets to determine whether an internship is right for you, learn how to develop core workplace skills and maximize your intern experience.
Explore and consider opportunities to conduct research in your field. Research experience can be helpful for determining your career interest, instrumental for discovering your passion for research and beneficial for those who choose to pursue graduate studies. When considering research speak with faculty who share your interests and connect with the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Inquiry for guidance.
Volunteering is a great way to gain experience. If you are looking for a short-term experience, volunteering at an organization within your community may be an excellent stepping stone to something more formal in the future. Many undergraduate students who aren’t yet “qualified” for internships find that volunteering is the best step they can take early in their university careers. Refer to the Value of Volunteering [pdf] tip sheet found on the Center’s website and explore Volunteering from the college’s department page to learn more about the benefits of volunteering and for suggestions of how to gain experience.
Many of the skills, knowledge and abilities employers seek are developed through your role as a student leader on campus. According to the Job Outlook Survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 77.8% of the employers responded that leadership is one of the most significant attributes that a candidate can have. Become an active member or leader of a student organization. Get exposed to new people, ideas and experiences that will help shape your career interests. Get started by exploring Arts and Sciences student organizations and campus-wide student organizations.
Participation in an internship is a great way to build skills, but don’t limit your search to internships when seeking experiences for your resume. Consider how your skills could be broadened by enrolling in an Ohio State course with an applied component. Examples include service-learning and education abroad courses. With the guidance of your academic advisor, you can also identify courses that will help you improve upon your skills in one or more of the in-demand areas sought by employers. Examples include public speaking, business writing and leadership courses.
Large numbers of employers do NOT feel that recent college graduates are well prepared to be successful in the workplace, seeing a need better prepare students to apply knowledge and skills in real world settings. In 2014, fewer than 3 in 10 employers thought that recent graduates had the level of critical thinking skills and written and oral communication skills needed to work in their entry-level positions. Ohio State provides you with ample opportunities to expand upon your readiness competencies. Just as earning a degree consists of completing classes that build upon one another, moving successfully from the classroom to the workplace is also a sequential process that you can manage by reflecting on how you can improve upon your career readiness skills. Skill-building opportunities abound in and beyond the classroom.
Participation in service-learning will provide hands on experience that will allow you to connect with community members who you can impact your skill and career development in a variety of ways. Because service-learning often involves collaborative project work, you will be able to practice communication and teamwork skills as well as provide evidence to an employer that you can take initiative. Each service-learning course is designated with an "S" suffix in the course catalog. Before enrolling in a service-learning course, you are strongly encouraged to discuss with your Academic Advisor how completion of a particular course will impact your degree plan. Start your search for service-learning opportunities.
Just about any experience abroad will contribute to your transferable skills, the skills that are transferable to a wide variety of employment settings. Skills you can acquire during education abroad include learning to communicate despite language barriers, enhanced appreciation for diversity and being adaptable in new cultures and environments — all of which will help you stand out to employers and grad school admission committees! Search for education abroad programs.
In-demand Skills Courses
Ohio State offers many courses that will contribute to your career readiness. Consult with your academic advisor about how courses in leadership, public speaking, business writing, computer applications, and other skill areas will fit within your degree plan. If finding room in your degree plan presents a challenge, you are encouraged to explore resources like Alison and Open Culture that provide free access to online courses and seminars that you can complete to broaden your skill set. Another option is Learning Express, which features short tutorials directed at preparing college students for future success.
In addition to providing income for school and living expenses, working a part-time job is an excellent way to enhance your resume. Through this type of experience, you can build transferable workplace skills such as customer service, communication, team work, and more. It's also a fantastic opportunity to expand your professional network and list of contacts.
A number of resources are available to assist you with your part-time job search, both on and off campus.