How to Land Your Dream Internship

By Sarah Fielder
Staff writer

Job and internship hunting can be a stressful process — from filling out applications and tweaking resumes to attending group interviews and writing personalized “thank you” letters.

Courtney Bigger, the associate director of the undergraduate student programming in the business school’s career services office, advised that students should build up resiliency when applying for jobs and develop a support group because the process could be mentally exhausting.

“I think students often forget that even when going through the process that they have a voice,” Bigger said. “If you don’t like the company, you’re not obligated to take it. It is as much about you learning about the company as they are trying to learn about you.”

Bigger said there are five soft skills employees typically search for when assessing job or intern applicants. They include communication, critical thinking, leadership, organizational skills and analytical skills.

“Most companies look for students with an understanding of the company and their needs,” Bigger said. “The biggest faux pas is that students don’t talk enough about the company and how their skills relate to the company.”

Companies are searching for an applicant who shows an understanding of the company’s policies and has skills they desire, Bigger said. If a student does not emphasize their understanding of the company’s needs and how they can fulfill them, a business is less likely to consider them.

Danielle Villeneuve, a junior information systems and marketing major and intern at the Treasury used online research to help secure her internship.

“To get any internship with the government, you must go through USAJOBS website,” Villeneuve said. “Each agency posts jobs and internship. You build a resume and apply to specific businesses.”

To create her resume on USAJOBS, which is a one-stop source for government jobs, Villeneuve attended a workshop because said the website was not user friendly. Eventually, a member of the Treasury department contacted Villeneuve for a phone interview.

“I made sure to review my resume and looked at flyers on how to interview well,” Villeneuve said.

The USAJOBS navigation workshop at the University of Maryland explained step by step how to use the website. Villeneuve said the workshop helped her create her online application.

When looking for an internship in the future, Villeneuve said she would consider time commitment and flexibility with hours and salary.

Prior to her internship with the federal government, Villeneuve said she did not think about asking about these important factors.

After hearing about her friends who had unpaid, full-time internships, she realized how important it is to know if a company could provide a travel stipend or work around student schedules.

Nicole Szeluga, a sophomore cell biology and molecular genetics major, is currently interning as an undergraduate research assistant at a lab at this university.

She also has plans to intern over the summer as a plant genomic undergraduate intern at Michigan State University. She hopes this internship will give her more experience in the field and make her look more desirable to prospective employers.

Szeluga took a one-credit class called BSCI 279B: Supplemental Study: Strategies for Success that teaches students how to find research opportunities. The class had multiple professors come in and give presentations on the labs they offer at this university, Szeluga said. The class also informs students about Research Experience Undergraduate programs and how to find opportunities online.

“GPA can only get you so far,” Szeluga said. “People want others with experience. Some people won’t even look at you if you don’t have experience. Internships also let you know what you want to do in life.”

Szeluga said when applying to internships, apply to at least seven because students are likely only to hear back from one or two programs.

The Career Center is another resource students have access to help them when searching for a job or internship. Located in Hornbake Library, students can have their resumes reviewed by a staff member or pick up the booklet, Terp Guide: Internship and Job Search, for tips on every step of the process.

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