|   College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Is It Time to Apply for an Internship?

 Why Should I Apply for an Internship?

Learn more at our upcoming workshop: Internships: How, When, and Why. Tuesday, October 20, 5;30pm. Register on Handshake for Zoom link.

It’s important to gain experience outside the classroom while you’re in college so you can

  • explore potential career paths
  • learn more about your strengths
  • acquire skills
  • show future employers why they should hire you.

An internship might be the best way to do all those things, but for some career paths other kinds of experience might be equally valuable: volunteering for an organization you value, demonstrating your leadership in your RSO, completing a creative project.

Here are bad reasons to apply for an internship:

“Everyone tells me you need an internship to get a job after you graduate. This is an internship, and so I will apply for it.”

“My friends already have internships lined up for next summer, and I don’t want to fall behind them.”

Here are some good reasons to apply for an internship:

“I’m not really sure what I want to do and I don’t have a lot of work experience. This opportunity sounds interesting, so I’d like to try it out and see where it takes me.”

“I’m thinking about a career in X, and this organization has a paid internship in X. That would be a great way for me to see if this is a path for me.”

“I’m really interested in Y, but I have no experience. This unpaid internship looks like the best way I can start getting the experience I’ll need to get paid eventually to do Y.”

“I need to make some money this semester, and this paid internship looks like a way to do that while building some new skills.”

When Is the Best Time to Apply for an Internship?

Yes. “When you see an opportunity with an approaching deadline” is a really great time to apply for an internship. “When you feel comfortable enough in your classes that you can start taking on other commitments” is another great time to apply for an internship. So is, “When you feel like you’ve learned everything you can from waiting tables and want to do work that will bring you new skills.” There’s no universally “correct” moment — it all depends on you and what is available.

Much depends on what kind of internship you’re interested in and what you plan to gain from it. Full-time, paid summer internships with large or mid-sized companies are often advertised in the fall and recruited for at fall and spring career fairs. Many people try to do these internships the summer before their senior year, in hopes that they will lead to job offers upon graduation. Prestigious nonprofit (museum, library, foundation, publishing) summer internships are often advertised in the late winter with early spring deadlines — they are often also unpaid.  Part-time internships during the semester (both local and remote, paid and unpaid) get advertised all the time — if you’re a humanities major, check your email, as we regularly send out information about available opportunities. ATLAS has a rolling application deadline, and it’s a great place to start if you want to get experience but don’t really know what your direction is (they always need humanities majors; no tech experience required).

How Do I Start Applying for Internships?

  1. Identify the kind of internship you want (and why): full-time or part-time? During the summer or the school year? Paid or unpaid? Remote or in-person?
  2. Start reading our emails, regularly searching Handshake, and making use of other relevant sites.
  3. Create or update your resume.
  4. Make note of when the next round of campus career fairs is, and stay alert for events to help you prepare.
  5. Make an appointment with the Humanities Professional Resource Center to explore your options and review yoru resume.