12 Weeks to a Stronger Resume with InternPLUS: Part I

This is the first installation of a three-part series about how to use the 12 weeks of summer to enhance your career experience and boost your chances of success.

When we think of summer, we often think of long lazy days filled with R&R. For those looking to get ahead in their careers, though, rest and relaxation aren’t enough. These industrious individuals can use the summer to focus on another “R” – their resumes.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Job Outlook 2017 survey, 91 percent of surveyed employers said they prefer candidates have work experience, with 65 percent of respondents preferring that candidates have experience related to their chosen career path.

To help students obtain career experience in their degree field, University of Maryland University College (UMUC) created InternPLUS – a program designed to provide opportunities for all UMUC students to obtain this critical resume-boosting experience in order to be more competitive to prospective employers.

Kristin Schrader, associate director of InternPLUS and Military Career Programs at UMUC, sees this focus mirrored in her own interactions with hiring organizations. “Having a degree is a huge mark in a candidate’s favor, but employers really want candidates who bring relevant work experience to the table.”

Jump-start your resume with virtual and project-based internships
Internships are designed to help give you experience in your career field. However, with so many UMUC students balancing work and family responsibilities while earning their degree, traditional internships are not always conducive to their schedules. However, for these students, virtual and project-based internships are needed to increase their experience levels.

“What is nice about these opportunities is that most can be done from home,” explains Schrader. “These specific internships give our students the chance to work flexibly so they still get that experience despite the other roles they are juggling as students, employees or parents.”

These non-traditional internship opportunities mirror the values of UMUC, which include flexibility, innovation, diversity, technology, continuous improvement and value-added offerings for students.

Anytime internship opportunities perfect for June
June is an ideal time to explore virtual and project-based internships, which fit nicely into summer schedules that may be peppered with long weekends or impromptu beach days.

“My favorite go-to for project-based internships is Parker Dewey,” explains Schrader. “It’s a for-profit company that liaises with companies that have short-term projects appropriate for college students and recent graduates. These are essentially micro internships, and many of them can be done virtually.”

The following InternPLUS resources are ideal for students and recent graduates seeking this kind of flexible growth opportunity:

  • Parker Dewey: This company works with organizations to identify short-term internships and projects for students seeking to change or launch their career. These short-term, paid professional projects generally take between five and 40 hours to complete and can be either onsite or remote.
  • Internships.com: One of the largest internship job boards, this site contains hundreds of virtual opportunities for students. It’s important to read job postings carefully since some opportunities require occasional face-to-face meetings with the employer even though internship may be described as “virtual.”
  • FlexJobs: This site features thousands of opportunities that can be completed on a flexible schedule, including opportunities that are completely or partially virtual. Be sure to carefully read the job posting to understand if you must meet the employer face-to-face. FlexJobs does charge a membership fee to view its position descriptions, but it will screen all employers to ensure that the employer and position are legitimate.
  • MindSumo: This start-up partners with Fortune 500 companies to create short-term challenges for students or recent grads to solve in a contest format. Those who submit winning entries for these challenges receive cash rewards, and the experience can be listed on a resume and added to an academic portfolio.  New challenges are posted regularly.
  • Smithsonian Virtual Internships: The Smithsonian Institution has capitalized on the use of technology to offer a growing number of internships that can be conducted online. Students, who can be located anywhere, will receive real-world learning and mentorship.
  • WayUp:  A job and internship board designed for college students and recent graduates, this site simplifies the job application process. The search results will only show those jobs to which the job seekers is qualified.
  • Virtual Student Foreign Service: Multiple agencies within the US government select “eInterns” to complete projects throughout the academic year. These are unpaid experiences in which students work virtually for an average of 10 hours per week. These internships begin each July, so now is a good time to start planning if you’re interested in participating in 2019.

In order to succeed, participants in these flexible, experiential learning opportunities need to possess strong time management skills and the ability to work independently. When they do, the payoff is clear.

“Having this real-world experience on your resume can be a real confidence booster,” asserts Schrader. “It can help students and alumni confirm that they are pursuing the right field for them and gain direction for what they want to do long term. They just need an opportunity, and this is where these internships can play a great role.”

Learn more about UMUC’s InternPLUS program here.

Click here to learn more about UMUC’s Office of Career Services.