Search for student interns starts early

By Shannon Smith

Heath Murra, junior in engineering, said he is looking for an internship that could give him technical experience.

“An internship is something to put down on a resume and improve my chances of getting a job right out of college,” he said.

While Murra realizes the importance of an internship, he said that like many students, he is unsure about deadline dates.

The deadlines for summer internship applications are quickly approaching, and now is the time for students to begin their search for field experience, said University Career Center Director Gail Rooney.

“Don’t wait until March or April,” she said. “It’s better to apply early.”

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    The Career Center, located at 715 S. Wright St. in Champaign, is a campus resource for University students who have questions about internships and deadlines. Rooney said the center offers internship workshops and mock job interviews to students.

    For mock interviews, Rooney said students drop off their resumes ahead of time and then return for a taped interview. Afterward, the student views the tape and is told what went well in the interview and what did not.

    Rooney said self-awareness is the most important step to earning an internship.

    “You need to know your interests, skills and abilities before you think about applying,” she said.

    If students know what career path they want to take, preparing for an internship should start as early as freshman year, said Lynn Holley, the University

    journalism department’s academic programs coordinator.

    “Students need to start small and work their way up,” Holley said. “Journalism students, for example, need to begin obtaining clips and working for papers as soon as they can. The Chicago Tribune doesn’t even take interns without professional clips.”

    Jeff Freeman, senior project manager at Engineering Enterprises, Inc. based out of Sugar Grove, Ill., attested to the benefit of internships.

    “In our line of work, unless you are doing it and exposed to the conditions, you cannot totally comprehend the field,” Freeman said.

    According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the number-one way companies find new employees is by considering past interns.

    Murra said he’s noticed a similar trend in his internship search.

    “After you have an internship, you have your foot in the door,” Murra said.

    In his search, Murra said he has also noticed the importance of resume building.

    “They (resumes) are how the company determines your skills,” he said. “If you write a bad resume, the company isn’t even going to finish it. They will just throw it away.”

    Holley agreed that resumes and cover letters need to look polished. She said all of the important information about experience and creative attributes should be at the top.

    “Companies will take about 30 seconds maximum to look at your resume. It needs to present your best work,” Holley said.

    Rooney said that while resumes are important, students cannot depend solely on their resume to get them a job.

    “It is important to have your resume complete,” Rooney said. “Resumes get interviews, but they are not targeted to get jobs.”