The Daily Illini

Summer internships are still within reach

Andrew+McPike%2C+Junior+in+LAS%2C+sits+at+a+resume+review+session+at+the+Career+Center+on+Tuesday.+The+University+supports+summer+internships+and+research+opportunities+as+resume-builders.
Andrew McPike, Junior in LAS, sits at a resume review session at the Career Center on Tuesday. The University supports summer internships and research opportunities as resume-builders.

Andrew McPike, Junior in LAS, sits at a resume review session at the Career Center on Tuesday. The University supports summer internships and research opportunities as resume-builders.

Vishesh Anand

Vishesh Anand

Andrew McPike, Junior in LAS, sits at a resume review session at the Career Center on Tuesday. The University supports summer internships and research opportunities as resume-builders.

By Vishesh Anand, Staff Writer

As the beginning of summer approaches, students are getting prepared to make the most of their vacation. The end of the spring semester opens up numerous possibilities for undergraduates;, including going home, interning, studying abroad, getting involved in research, learning new skills or traveling, just to name a few.

However, at the moment, internships are particularly in high demand. As students land intern positions, those who haven’t can often get the feeling of inadequacy. However, they shouldn’t be too worried, because there are many other options.

Kyle Carmack, adviser at the Economics Career Center, believes if students don’t have what they want — a particular internship, for example — they should focus on finding activities that will make them a better fit for that position in the future.

Nonetheless, Carmack would like to underscore the importance of a professional internship experience.

“It’s the start of building a professional reputation and professional skills. (Internships) show that you can work in a real professional workplace,” Carmack said. “It’s exposure to the real world, and also gives students a foot in the door when they enter the job market later on.”

Carmack suggests students begin their search by contacting their department career centers and asking them for leads. From his time as an adviser, Carmack feels that students often fail to leverage the networks and skills career center professionals have.

The University has also invested a lot in creating resources that will help students find their desired opportunities, according to Carmack.

In addition to career centers for every department, there’s Handshake, an online job board for students, study abroad programs and summer research opportunities.

Carmack said students who don’t have anything lined up for the summer don’t have to remain idle. Students can focus on building soft skills through volunteering or through trying to land research assistant positions — which are considered equivalent to internships in many fields — at the University.

Additionally, Carmack suggests students should also consider enrolling in summer classes to get ahead of their workload and to gain desired skills in their field.

Vanessa Garcia, a study abroad specialist at the LAS Life and Design Lab, agrees with this statement.

“It’s important to look outside of formal, established internships,” Garcia said. “If you contact an organization or a company to simply volunteer with them, often times you will be able to develop your desired skills through that.”

As the study abroad specialist, Garcia would also recommend students consider summer study abroad opportunities. These make for a unique experience since students often get a chance to apply what they’ve learned in a classroom on a global perspective.

However, Garcia would advise students to not completely dismiss any internship.

“There’s never a bad experience with internships,” Garcia said, “regardless of whether you are going to pursue that specific career afterward or not.”

Garcia said summer internships are a great time to test things out. Furthermore, she thinks it’s never too late to start looking for internships; there’s always somebody hiring. She would encourage whoever is still looking for an internship to keep looking.

Faye Tan, undergraduate research specialist at the LAS Life and Design lab, added that there’s no set timeline for internships either. And if students can’t find opportunities for this summer, they should focus on the next semester or even the next summer.

However, as an undergraduate research specialist, she said internships are not the only option. Gaining research experience is a unique and valuable exposure that can be even more beneficial than an internship for some students, Tan said.

Unlike internships, research opportunities are not posted on a job board, so there’s not enough awareness about them. The Life and Design Lab encourages students to create research opportunities for themselves by reaching out to professors and networking.

“You should think about what you’re interested in learning more about, and then do the research online about what opportunities are available,” Tan said. “And even if there aren’t any, it’s about contacting the right people to see what you can do to learn and get involved.”

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