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The Daily Illini

Students discuss obtaining internships, share previous experiences

Mary Kate Kiley, Staff writer

As the end of the school year quickly approaches, students are either on the hunt for summer internships or already have them. With resources such as the Career Center and online services like I-Link, the University has made it increasingly easier for students to find out about openings in companies nationwide.

Though internships are not a requirement for graduation, most students would agree that they are a vital step in moving toward a full-time position after graduation and create a great addition for a resume.

Kathy Powell, junior in FAA, landed an internship at a company in Danville, where she will apply her graphic design skills. Last year, Powell worked as an intern in New York City for O, The Oprah Magazine. One tip Powell gave for those applying for internships is to design your resume so it reflects your achievements.

“For creative, it’s important that your resume reflects your personality, it doesn’t always have to follow strict guidelines,” Powell said. Powell credited I-Link for how she learned about internship opportunities. Through the service, she was able to submit her resume online and then was invited to partake in the interview process.

Powell said students should be themselves during interviews.

“Be confident and always make sure you do your research about the company before you go into the interview so you can ask solid questions,” Powell said. “You should also make sure you are answering the questions thoroughly, but keep them short. Don’t ramble.”

Other students like Nicole Robinson, graduate student in human resources, emphasize research before going into the interview.

“First, I would Google the company, look up the interviewer on LinkedIn, take notes on the job posting and identify which values I closely identify with,” Robinson said.

Robinson explained that typical interview questions can be found on sites like Glassdoor. She said it is vital to practice answering them in order to prepare for the interview.

“I look at Glassdoor to see which interview questions are very common and go from there,” Robinson said. “I, typically, will try to see how my experience connects and try to figure out examples, off of this research, to use in the interview.”

Not only is the interview process a vital step to landing an internship, but creating a strong resume to display accomplishments is as well. A good resume lists educational, leadership and work experience, as well as additional skills if they are relevant. Resumes can also be catered to specific jobs.

“It’s really common to have multiple versions of your resume based on the type of position,” Robinson said. “Be sure to edit your resume based on the job description.”

The different experiences students have on and off campus can help boost resumes. RSOs can be particularly helpful, as well as internships or other jobs.

“If you can’t tell a story about your involvement with something, it should not be on your resume,” Robinson said. “Any experience can be teased out to be applicable for a certain job, but the more closely aligned the positions, the easier and more applicable it is.”

As for her personal strengths, Robinson reflected upon her experience and the qualities that made her a good candidate for companies like Honeywell, where she will be interning this summer.

“I think I ask really good questions in interviews that prove I am interested in the organization,” Robinson said. “My experience speaks for itself, typically, and I’m able to show competence within HR. But the best way to secure an internship or next round interview is with passion for the position and the work and being a competent individual.”

Nadia Ennab, sophomore in LAS, was hired as a Lincoln Park Zoo intern. She said she was worried about how the interview process would go.

“I was nervous, but the supervisor was very nice and funny and they just wanted to know more about me,” Ennab said.

As for experience, a minimum wage job or previous internship can be applied to future positions in some way.

“For this internship, I read all the requirements and it didn’t seem like something I could attain. I looked at the experience I had and found ways to tie it back to the internship,” Ennab said. “It wasn’t completely unrelated but it also wasn’t paid, prestigious research. I even used coursework and used that as experience.”

Although internships and the process to obtain them can be intimidating, there are many opportunities available and employers generally want to help students gain experience. For interviews, students should relax and focus on being themselves.

“A lot of people make the mistake and go through a list of typical questions with the most elaborate answer,” Ennab said. “But I feel like when you find something that aligns with your goals, that will come through in the interview.”

mkiley2@dailyillini.com

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