As summer approaches, college students are now considering how they are going to spend their free time productively which includes investigating internships. To help facilitate the application process, Associate Professor and Interim Director of Internships for the Media, Film and Journalism (MFJS) department Derigan Silver and DU Career Center director Mary Michael Hawkins have some insight to better Pios’ chances of getting an internship.
First, figure out if the internship is right for you.
It’s easy to fall under the trap of assuming that you simply need to have an internship for the sake of buffing up your resume. But relevant work experience is important, so ditch the ones that make you go on coffee runs and, as Silver suggests, consider the potential learning value of the opportunity.
If students make it to the interview portion of the process but are still unsure if the opportunity is worth it, Hawkins wants students to ask their interviewer questions to clarify any hesitations they may have.
When it comes to clubs… quality over quantity.
Being a part of an organization will show that a student is well-rounded and not just focused on his or her grades, but it’s important to not get overwhelmed and not dabble with numerous clubs. This is Hawkins’s biggest recommendation. She wants students to pick one or two clubs to be committed enough to and then take on a leadership role or a committee membership with them.
In addition to showing involvement, Silver says to participate in activities “That [are]going to show your work product,” because “[employers]want to see if you can actually do this.” This does not mean the activity must be school related. For MFJS students, Silver provides examples of ways students can show their work: they can have a YouTube channel, have a good social media presence or develop a portfolio site.
Avoid the common mistakes.
In terms of the resume, a common mistake that Hawkins sees is a student’s inability to build out their experiences properly. For example, say the student is a server at a restaurant, explains Hawkins. On their resume it should not say, “I waited tables.” Instead, the student should mention the skills learned from the experience: thinking on their feet, providing good customer service or having up-selling/sales skills.
Another common mistake Hawkins points out is students “using complete sentences instead of statements and action verbs” on their resumes. Students should have their resumes be clear and concise and lack “I” statements. Using verbs ending with “-ed” or “-ing” is a safe bet.
For cover letters, it’s important to avoid using a template. No one wants that embarrassing moment of having two different organizations mentioned in the same letter. “If they can see that you have spent some time understanding their business, looking at the job description and how you fit with that job description, that time will be well spent,” said Hawkins.
Also, for any document students submit to a potential internship or job, be aware of the dreaded grammar errors and know that there is a good balance of black and white.
It’s normal to feel stressed with the application process, especially in the middle of the already busy quarter. To ease the anxiety, Hawkins encourages students to just get started. “The stress of thinking ‘I need to do this, I need to do this,’ and not doing anything just compounds itself. I can’t tell you how many students walk out of our office and say, ‘Thank you, I feel so much better’ because they’ve started the process,” she said.
For any additional help, students can check out the DU Career Services website for more resume/cover letter help and schedule a meeting with a Career Center advisor to get individual help. MFJS students looking for internship opportunities can look at the weekly internship emails from Silver. The Pioneer Career Blog is another resource students can look at the weekly internship emails from Silver. The Pioneer Career Blog is another resource students can use to look at internship opportunities, upcoming events designed to help students or read articles on the internship process.