Recently we had the chance to talk to some staff and interns of ATLAS about internships. The conversation provided us with valuable information about internship opportunities at ATLAS, application procedure, the possibility of continuing internships for more than one semester, and the prospect of transition from unpaid internships to paid positions.
How do you invite internship applications? Do you advertise them or do you accept applications throughout the year?
We invite applications year round, as we constantly have new positions coming in, and have started interns at mid-semester in the past. We also do specific calls for applications if we have a position that needs filled and we don’t have applicants that fit that position.
We use a variety of methods to advertise the internship program. There are advertisements on the ATLAS website; we also work to reach students through academic advisers, internship fairs, and posters. Recently we started advertising on Handshake as well.
How do I apply?
While applying for internships, is it better for students to check off everything they think they might be interested in, or is it better to limit it to one or two things they’re pretty sure about?
We would encourage them to check off anything they might be interested in. The ATLAS Internship Program is a great opportunity to try things out. Some folks try something out and decide they will not do it again, whereas others stay in their position for several semesters.
We ask the students to commit to their internship for a semester. They are asked to sign an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) at the beginning of their internship, which says they understand and agree to their responsibilities. Once the end of the semester comes around, we as staff communicate with the client and interns to determine if the project will continue and if the interns want to remain on the project.
What kinds of prior experience or knowledge would be helpful for students to list in their application?
They don’t really need any. We try to match students with positions based on their experience and interests, but our internships require varying amounts of technology knowledge. Some simply require the intern be able to use a computer and the Internet, whereas some require more programming knowledge, and we discuss that in interviews. The main qualities we require for all positions are good communication skills, attention to detail, and a willingness to learn.
In what kinds of internships do students from humanities tend to do better?
Interns work on all sorts of projects. Students in the humanities tend to write documents for instructors and students, evaluate courses, edit and proofread documents, and write about how to use different applications (user documentation). We’ve also had some work on website content.
Is there any opportunity for students to advance from unpaid internships to paid ones? If students want to continue their internship for more than one semester, is it possible?
Yes. Ideally all of our students would be getting paid or receiving course credit. Right now, there aren’t a lot of paid positions, but there is the opportunity to advance, and our number of paid positions is increasing. If a student in an unpaid position has done reliable and quality work, and there is a client willing to pay, we would see if the student would be a good match for the paid position.
Students can continue their internships past the initial semester provided they performed their job well. We speak with the clients and interns to determine how the next semester will proceed.
How long after applying can students expect to hear about being accepted or rejected?
The program has grown faster than we expected it to, and so it has been slower getting things going. We now have additional staff to help support the program, and we are reducing the amount of the wait time. If students apply at the end of a semester or at the very beginning, they will probably hear sooner; if they apply mid-semester, it may take longer before we’re doing another review cycle.We try to address applications and placements status as soon as we can.
If students reject an initial placement, can they apply again later in hopes of getting something that they like better? Is the process for re-applying under those conditions different form the initial application?
Yes, if they reject an initial placement, they can still be considered for another position later on. Right now when we interview students, we keep their records on their file. Later, if a position of their choice is available, we contact them; they do not need to reapply.
What kinds of jobs does the internship help students prepare for?
The internships help prepare students for a variety of jobs. It provides them with diversity of experience they can put on their resume, and allows them to grow as a professional individual while still studying. More and more soft skills and technical skills are proving to be invaluable in the workplace. One advisor sent us this article, “The Surprising Thing Google Learned about Its Employees,” and it gives some great insight into the value of ATLAS internships.