It’s about that time of the year. The best time of the year. Job search season is right around the corner and you can feel it in the air. There is a heightened sense of pressure, intensity, and stress all around. Conversations are being overtaken by topics of resumes and cover letters. LinkedIn profiles are being updated and social media profiles are going through major changes. It’s a thrill. Everyone is on edge and there is a nervous excitement that seems to envelope everything.
If you are a soon-to-be graduate, you know exactly what I am talking about. Finding a job after high school/college/etc. is terrifying. If you are a first year #SAGrad, you probably are looking for an internship right now. You too know this feeling being described. I know. Because just a year ago I was in your shoes. And, a year before that I was going through this process for my first time.
Whether you’re on the search for the perfect grad school/program, job, or internship you’re feeling the same way as many many people out there right now. Look around, I am sure you see it too!
This process is exciting and scary at the same time. Your body almost can’t handle the emotions and stress that you’re putting it through. But, I promise you will be just fine!
I’m going to give you some advice – now I can’t really talk about the job search – because I’ve never really been on one. But I can tell you the grad school/program search is a wild ride. But, you will end up where you’re supposed to be. Just be patient. Have a little faith. And, don’t be afraid to jump out of your comfort zone! I can also tell you the internship search process is perhaps even better. I LOVED my experience!
I wanted to share a little about my experience and talk to you about the internship process, as I think it can be a little tough to navigate.
So, if you’re a #SAGrad and are freaking out about your internship search right now, here are a few things that I think you should keep in mind.
Location: Are you geographically bound? Are you willing to spend three months anywhere? Or do you have a specific destination in mind. Consider this when applying and making final decisions.
Institution type: This is important. Are you interested in working at a public institution? Or do you want an experience at a private institution? Some institutions are religiously affiliated. Do you want to work at a predominantly white institution? Or are you looking for a historically black college or other minority serving institution? Do you want to work at a community college? Trades school? Or four year university?
Keep this in mind. Are you willing to work for an institution that doesn’t align with your values? I’m not. This is perhaps the most important characteristic for me. I WILL NOT work somewhere that doesn’t align with my values or provide me the support that I seek in a professional setting. So, know if the institution that you’re applying to work for is religiously affiliated or has different values than you. Read mission and vision statements for the university and the department you’d be working for. Ask these questions in interviews.
Size: Large institutions. Small institutions. Mid-sized universities. There are so many options. For me, I needed a new and different experience. I attended Northern Michigan University for my undergraduate studies and the University of South Dakota for grad school. Both had student populations right around 10,000. I needed something smaller or larger…but knew that I didn’t want an internship experience at another mid-sized university.
Experience: Go into your internship search knowing what kind of experience you want. Do you want to work in Housing & Residence Life? Orientation and New Student Programs? Conferences? Student Activities? Do you want to work at a national organization’s headquarters? Or do you want an on-campus experience? What do you want to learn from your internship? What skills/strengths can you bring to your internship experience that will set you apart from other applicants?
Be mindful and intentional when applying for internships so you wind up finding something that you really want to do, and something that you’ll gain a lot from.
For me this was simple. I wanted out of the Midwest. I wanted to work at a really small or really large institution. I wanted to do something with Residence Life. I needed to be supervising student employees. I wanted to find something in a city that I would enjoy. I needed both opportunities for adventure and exploration as well as socializing and networking.
I highly recommend researching not only the campus and institution community, but also the city you’ll be working in. What is the population? What are the demographics? Does the city have a nightlife? Young professionals network? Is there public transportation? Is it biker/walker friendly? What are the food options? Is there a coffee shop or a brewery? What is the shopping like? Where is the nearest mall? I live in a pretty remote area and that was perfect for me, but I know some people can’t survive without a mall, a Chick-fil-A, and a couple bars.
Use your interests and needs to help you narrow your search, but don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try something new.
What is it that you’re looking for in an internship? Not sure? Give it some thought. Ask your supervisor, staff members, and peers what they think your strengths are and what you’d benefit from experiencing. Use your head and your heart when making a decision. Don’t accept something that you know you won’t enjoy.
Sometimes internships lead to full-time jobs (mine did!) so do something you’ll enjoy and go somewhere you will want to be. Put your all into this process and have fun!
If you have questions or concerns, feel free to hit me up. I would love to share my input and experiences with others.