12 Weeks to a Stronger Resume with InternPLUS: Part III

This is the third 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.

Planning to work in a traditional internship next summer? Believe it or not, if the answer is ‘yes,’ you’d better get serious about securing your summer 2019 internship soon.

“You should apply for traditional summer internships as early as the previous fall,” advises Kristin Schrader, associate director of InternPLUS and Military Career Programs at UMUC. “That’s when big companies start recruiting because they want to capture the best talent as early as possible.”

Although it may feel strange to plan for an internship nearly a year in advance, it’s an effort that will pay off on your resume. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers Job Outlook 2017 survey, more than 90 percent of employers who responded are looking to hire job candidates with prior work experience. Of these respondents, 56 percent prefer that this experiences come from an internship or a co-op.

Gaining experience the traditional way
There are many different kinds of internship available to those who are looking to enhance their skill set and boost their resume. Most virtual or volunteer internships are flexible by their very nature. For instance, you can participate in a virtual internship from anywhere with an internet connection. Since these are often project-based, they are available throughout the calendar year. Likewise, with volunteer internships, you can identify a nonprofit who needs your help in exchange for job experience at any time.

Traditional internships, however, are typically more structured. They are often presented as official programs by employers who seek undergraduate or graduate students to fill a specific role. These traditional internships can be paid or unpaid, although unpaid internships are subject to labor guidelines to ensure that the intern benefits from the experience.

“The majority of these are during the summer. That’s the way major corporations structure their programs,” explains Schrader.

Students who participate in traditional internships benefit in many ways beyond simply gaining experience for their resumes. As these internship positions are often full time for a few months, students get to experience being immersed in a company’s culture to see what they like and don’t like—something that will help them find a good fit with an employer once they graduate. Interns are also able to experience what it is like in their chosen field and industry on a day-to-day basis to see if they are on the right career path or need to explore other areas.

During these internships, students may complete a number of projects related to their fields. “These could include conducting research, doing analysis or updating standard operating procedures,” notes Schrader. “It really depends on the field and the duration.”

Finding a traditional internship
Finding a traditional internship is much like finding a regular job. You can search for internships on UMUC’s CareerQuest site, as well as on websites like LinkedIn, internships.com, and WayUp.

But as with a typical job search, sometimes the best way to find a great internship is to start with your own network. “I really do think it’s an under-tapped resource with fewer barriers to entry,” asserts Schrader. “Start with who you know within organizations you are already connected with, and then move on to who your friends know.”

Leveraging your connections can help you gain visibility to positions you may not have otherwise learned about, and it can help get your resume in the right hands.

Just don’t be afraid to ask directly—and, of course, politely—for what you want. “Don’t be timid,” insists Schrader. “The worse thing you will hear is no.”

Learn more about traditional, virtual and volunteer internship opportunities on UMUC’s InternPLUS site.

Visit CareerQuest today to explore UMUC’s career tools and resources available to assist in you in all stages of your career. To speak with UMUC’s Office of Career Services, please call 240-684-2720 or email careerservices@umuc.edu.