Early search key for internships

By Lauren Mangurten

Jumpstart your career by landing the perfect summer internship before it is too late.

Brandon Bute, assistant director at the Career Center, said students interested in landing a summer internship should typically start looking during winter and early spring but that the time frame varies by major.

Matthew Nuese, associate director of Business Career Services, said business students should start looking one full year in advance. Nuese stressed the importance of working ahead.

“Always be career-minded. First day on campus, you have to start thinking,” Nuese said. “You’re either moving forward or backwards.”

Bute said internships give students the opportunity to gain real-world work experience.

“An internship is a good environment that allows you to continue to explore, to kind of test the waters,” Bute said.

Bute said the 2006 Experiential Education Survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that 53 percent of interns nationwide were hired back by employers for full-time employment in 2005.

Julian Parrott, LAS assistant dean and director of New Student Advising, said students should begin seeking out jobs or internships that will help them advance their careers during freshman year. Parrott said many students wait until junior or senior year to look for internships but that finding a fitting job or internship during freshman year can give them the experience they need to secure a better internship later.

Parrott said work experience in a specific field can help students direct their career paths. Students should think about their goals and look for opportunities that will cater to their interests and allow them to hone their skills.

“The first thing all students should want to do is know what resources they have available on campus,” Nuese said. There are 26 career centers at the University to assist students in their searches. Nuese said the different career centers serve students from the various colleges on campus. Those who do not know where to begin can seek help at the Career Center, 715 S. Wright St., Nuese said.

Nuese recommends that students begin by creating lists of places they would like to work and by applying on the companies’ Web sites. Students can find out about internships through job boards, like the Career Center’s IConnectUIUC.edu, where they can post their resumes and search for internships. Nuese said the business advisers encourage students to interact with employers through forums, workshops and information sessions. They also facilitate a job-shadow program over winter break for freshmen and sophomores. Nuese said that applicants can get noticed by showing employers how passionate they are about their fields.

Nuese said the application process typically involves a first interview on campus and a second interview at the workplace.

Parrott said strong applicants develop the necessary skills and show passion for their fields inside and outside of the classroom. Students may also need work experience in their chosen fields before they apply for an internship.

“It becomes a really holistic experience that starts in the classroom and outside of the classroom as well,” Parrott said.

Parrott said students should use the resources they have through their friends and families.

“The key ingredient in this is the networking that goes into the position,” Parrott said. “Build up this web or network of people in a variety of different fields.”

Nuese said the biggest mistake students make is failing to actively pursue their internships.

“A lot of students think if they come from the University of Illinois, the employers are going to come to them,” Neuse said. “Go out there. Be active. The most successful students are the ones that are actively pursuing the employers.”