What's UP with Natalie: Surviving internship season

By Natalie Nygren | February 12, 2019 8:01am

Community engagement editor Natalie Nygren gives us tips for applying for internships and shares advice from the Career Center. 

Media Credit: Annika Gordon / The Beacon

Hey, Pilots. Natalie here. With the new year in full swing, it’s time to transition into a scary, stressful and sometimes intimidating time of year for students: internship season. I’m right there with you. I know that internship season can put some added stress on your already hectic schedules and cause a lot of anxiety across the board.

Since I’m in the same shoes as everyone else, I decided to explore all the internship resources I have access to on campus and thought other students might benefit from my research. 

First, I sat down with Audrey Fancher, internship and engagement coordinator at the Career Center, and with Elizabeth Jones, academic internship coordinator in the College of Arts and Sciences. 

Both Fancher and Jones are fully immersed in internship season, as Fancher manages Handshake postings and employer visits, while Jones advises CAS students through all points of the process, including getting class credit for internships. 

If you haven’t already, Fancher and Jones strongly encourage you to activate your Handshake account to start the process. Handshake is a platform UP uses to post internships, jobs and career-related events in one place for students, similar to LinkedIn but with a college focus. It’s a tool specifically designed for students seeking internships and jobs, so using it while you have access as a UP student is a no-brainer. 

Personally, I am borderline overwhelmed (in a positive way) with all the internship resources and tools available at UP, so I compiled some of Fancher’s and Jones’ best advice for rocking internship season. Here are some general “do’s and don’ts” they had to share:

DO start early. 

It’s never too early to start searching, applying or interviewing for internships. Oftentimes, employers like to see ambition in early applicants, so get started soon if you haven’t already.

DON’T ignore the bi-weekly internship newsletters. 

You may have received these emails in the past, and a big part of Fancher’s position is to curate these newsletters specifically to each college within UP. Many students disregard these newsletters, but they actually put available internships right in your inbox with direct links to apply. It doesn’t get easier than that!

DO utilize Career Center events and resources. 

Stop by for a 15-minute Drop-In appointment, schedule a longer appointment for personalized help on your resume or attend events the Career Center hosts on the regular. 

In fact, one of the biggest resources students should know about are the Career Center’s countless events on campus. Not only does the school host various career fairs throughout this semester, such as the UP Spring Job Fair and the SWE STEM Career Fair for engineering students, but the center also offers various workshop sessions to help students be successful at these networking events.

More information about job fairs can be found at the Career Center. Graphic created by Natalie Nygren. 

by Natalie Nygren / The Beacon

“We know it’s intimidating, and we know it’s outside of your wheelhouse to just go talk to all these employers,” Fancher said. “So, we have eight different prep workshops throughout February and March.”

These workshops are aimed at helping students feel prepared and confident before attending job fairs, which is one of the best ways to grow your network and find internships to apply to, Fancher explained. 

The Career Center is offering multiple workshops in February and March to help students prepare for upcoming job fairs. Graphic created by Natalie Nygren.

by Natalie Nygren / The Beacon

In addition to these planning workshops and big events, Fancher also invites employers to campus who want to recruit UP students to intern at their company. There are a variety of employer visits and info sessions happening each month, and you can find them in your Handshake account

“We both talk to employers on the phone, and a lot of them are excited because they’ve hired previous UP students, so they specifically want to come to UP,” Fancher said.

DON’T rely solely on job boards.

While LinkedIn and Handshake can be a great starting point, many students get their internships from someone in their network, like their uncle’s next door neighbor or previous supervisor’s sister. Utilize your network and don’t be afraid to ask for introductions or potential opportunities. 

“You don’t know who will find out about something and be able to tell you,” Jones said. “Let everyone know you’re searching for an internship.”

More specifically to CAS students, Jones oversees and manages internships for credit within the College of Arts and Sciences. CAS students seeking an internship can schedule an appointment with her for assistance and many work with her to get upper division class credit. 

For CAS students who want some additional support in their internships, Jones also offers a one-credit internship prep course each semester, CAS 191. This course is designed for sophomores and juniors who want to do an internship, but need some help through the process or just need a dedicated time to work on their career or internship goals, Jones said. 

by Annika Gordon / The Beacon

DO be confident. 

As a UP student, you have a ton to offer a potential employer, so be confident in yourself, your skills and what you can bring to a company. Employers love confidence, so take advantage of that and sell the heck out of yourself in your cover letters and interviews. 

“UP students have a lot of experience and are humble,” Fancher said. “But don’t downplay how qualified you are.” 

If you couldn’t tell from the work they do here at UP, both Fancher and Jones think internships are incredibly valuable for college students. Not only do internships offer applied experience, they also help you discover what you’re interested in and what you might like to pursue in your career after graduating. 

“Gaining experience while you’re in school is absolutely necessary,” Fancher said. “It’s a time to discover and gain skills that will complement what you’re learning in the classroom.”

Jones agrees that career exploration is big, especially for CAS majors where there isn’t a specific career path.

“Skills are huge,” Jones said. “Employers are looking for experience, but the experience itself doesn’t matter as much as the specific skills that you get out of a position and can show in the next interview or internship.”

Fancher and Jones are just two of the amazing support people on campus to help you if you’re feeling discouraged or don’t know where to start. Rejections and discouragement are normal in this process, but it’s important to learn from our low points and stay motivated throughout the internship season. 

“You’re not alone,” Fancher said. “It’s hard to get a rejection, but it’s one thing to stay discouraged and another thing to keep pushing through it and continue to stay motivated, because you’re worth it.” 

You can even make a “Rejection Board” in your dorm or living room, where you and your roommates can hang all your rejection letters in one space and use it as motivation and a reminder that you’re not alone.

So, Pilots, what are you waiting for? Hop on Handshake, start revamping your resume and get an employer event on your calendar ASAP. And remember, you’re not alone. Good luck! 

Natalie Nygren is the community engagement editor at The Beacon. She can be reached at nygren20@up.edu