Let's Talk Internships

June 23, 2021

Let’s Talk Internships

As summer is now in full swing, I’m watching many of my friends navigate their new internships. This got me thinking about the idea of summer internships as a whole… how to find them, why we need or want them, and the pressure that comes with them. I think it’s something worth talking about, especially as an incoming junior with lots of questions and fears regarding internships and my future career.

Lucky for me –  and all of you – here, at MSU, we have a great resource for these types of things: Career Services Network (CSN) within the Division of Student Affairs and Services. I got to speak with Karin Hanson, director of employer relations and communications for CSN, and I’d like to share her insight.

What are the first steps students interested in a summer internship should take and when?

Hanson said that the answer to this question varies according to many factors. First, it depends on the stage you are in: what kind of experience do you have? what skills have you developed already?

Sit with these questions for a while and come up with some honest answers for yourself.

Next, students need to recognize, although internships are largely a learning experience, you still need to be able to bring something to the table. This is why understanding your current strengths and weaknesses is so important. Once you have a good idea of what you can or cannot bring to a potential employer, it’s time to polish your resume and possibly other professional documents.

Depending on your desired industry, these documents will vary. Some of you may need a portfolio, some of you may not. When curating your resume, remember to be realistic about what’s available out there. You may not be able to find an internship at your dream company just yet, but maybe you can find one within the industry that would help you build strong skills for that dream job.

Whether you think your resume is strong or you don’t know where to begin, consider reaching out to a career consultant for some advice. Another set of eyes with experience and knowledge can never hurt. Beyond MSU’s career consultants, MSU offers the largest living alumni network in the world. Use this to your advantage! Handshake, MSU Connect, and LinkedIn are all great places to get started with networking.

Do you think summer internships throughout college are beneficial for a successful career after college?

Yes, having an internship in your field is beneficial, but Hanson said, “experience in that area is the most important.” Having the word “internship” on your resume is not the only way to prove yourself fit for a position. Volunteer and leadership experience within your industry can be just as valuable. Try to find some opportunities that align with your future career, whether that’s an internship, a volunteer program, project work or a micro-internship (two to six weeks). 

There’s a lot of pressure on students, especially upperclassmen, to get internships and stick with them. How do you think students should handle/take this kind of pressure? 

Hanson urges students to remember that any experience is experience. Even if you’re waitressing right now and your major is Public Relations, you can make that experience transferrable. Bring ideas to the table that will benefit both you and the company. See what you can do to get the most out of whatever role you’re in. Hanson said to ask yourself, “what can I do in this job that’s going to yield the experience I need for my future jobs?” Even if you feel like there’s nothing you can do at your job that’s transferrable, network within the company and its customers. You never know how a connection you make now will benefit you in the future.

The Career Services Network’s career advisors can also help you come up with ideas to make your skills transferrable. Lastly, Hanson suggested asking for informational interviews. Maybe you’re not yet equipped with the necessary skills for your dream internship, but if you can get an informational interview, you can get an idea of what steps to take to get into that role.

Give us your top three things you think students should be including on their LinkedIn profiles to make them more attractive to potential employers?

Karin Hanson’s Top Three LinkedIn Tips:

  1. Have a good title. Whether you are or are not currently employed, you want your title to be as specific as possible. For example, instead of just having “Student” as your title, try putting your major in front of the word student.
  2. Job Descriptions. When describing your past jobs and experiences, do so in a way that focuses on your transferrable skills. Write your descriptions with the intent to show employers what you can bring to the table.
  3. Have a professional picture. Though this one might seem simple and obvious, it really is one of the most important components of your profile. This is the first thing other users see when they click on your profile. Remember to choose a picture that is reflective of your industry. Some industries prefer more or less professional photos.

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