Complete all required paperwork with both the University and your internship site
Determine the hours you will work each week with your internship coordinator
If a formal Orientation has not been set up for you at your site, make sure you know the following:
- How to use all of office equipment you will be required to use
- How to use the phone system
- Dress Code
- Confidentiality and Security Issues
- Safety Issues
- Parking Arrangements
- Normal hours of operation and lunch hours
Talk with your internship coordinator to see what will be expected of you and what projects, jobs, etc. you will be working on
Set goals for what you are hoping to learn and to achieve while doing your internship
Share your goals with your internship coordinator
Be prepared to work hard and to gain meaningful insight in your field of interest
An internship is a great way to gain meaningful experience, with a short term commitment. It provides a way to apply what you've learned to the workplace, creates the potential for references and supplies an avenue for networking. Take advantage of your opportunity to do an internship.
Searching for an Internship
What is an Internship? An internship is an opportunity for students to work in an industry which matches their career interests to balance schoolwork with practical experience. An internship can be done during a summer, a semester or even a year to provide "real work" experience with a short term commitment. It may be a paid or volunteer position with part-time or full time hours. It can be done for course credit (depending on your college department's requirements) or simply for the experience.
Brainstorm. What company would you like to work for someday? Begin with companies that you are interested in for future employment. Start researching companies early in your college career so you know which ones to target for your internship.
Use the University Career Center. Texas Tech University Career Center is located at the southeast corner of the Wiggins Complex. Make an appointment to meet with the internship coordinator by calling 742-2210. Also, by registering with University Career Center, you will have access to Hire Red Raiders, an online listing of jobs and internships, over 150 company links, the capacity to preview companies which are coming to campus to conduct interviews and the ability to upload your resume for potential employers to review.
Remember to use all your networks. What contacts do you already have through way of your family, friends, alumni, professors, previous teachers, coaches, etc. Use these contacts to your advantage.
Think outside the box. Not all accountants work for a Big Four Firm. What other companies need accountants? Teaching also occurs outside the traditional classroom setting. Where could you use your teaching skills in a different environment? Nurses are found in more areas than just doctors' offices and hospitals. Explore all your options. You never know what will be the best fit for you until you think creatively about your skills and where they could best be used.
Use the Internet. You can research companies and discover if they have an internship program by checking out their website.
Still not sure? Try conducting informational interviews. Set up a time to talk with several people who are working in your field of interest. This can be done either on the phone or in person.
- If you will meet in person, make sure to dress professionally(as if you were going to an interview).
- Remember to have well thought out questions (i.e. Why did you choose this field, What is a typical day like? What does it take to be successful in this field? ). You may even e-mail your questions in advance so the person has time to think about their answers.
- Ask if the company has an established internship program and what the parameters are of this program. If the company does not have an established internship program, ask if they are open to hosting intern students.
- Ask the person for a business card. Start a collection of business cards from everyone you meet. These will come in handy if you have any more questions or if you decide to pursue an internship with one of the companies you have explored through your informational interviews.
- Remember to respect the person's time. They are taking time out of their work schedule to answer your questions.
- Send a thank you note to show your appreciation for the person's time.
Course Credit? You will need to check with your specific department to see how many hours are required to receive course credit for doing your internship. Some programs may not offer course credit for an internship, however the experience you gain will be worth your time even if you do not receive course credit.
Plan ahead. Internships are usually done after the sophomore or junior year. They can be done during the summer or during the school year. Plan ahead so you can incorporate an internship into your schedule at a time that is appropriate for you.
Wherever...Internships can be done in Lubbock, Dallas, New York, or Tokyo. You can choose the location that is best for you. Investigate your possibilities in advance so if relocation is an option, you will be prepared.
Again, remember to use your contacts. Do you have relatives in another city who are willing to house you for a summer or a semester. Do you have a friend you could live with while doing your internship in another city? Are there some options of living with a classmate who is also doing an internship in another city or even another country? Investigate your options. You never know where the best internship for you may be until you explore the possibilities.
Experience. An increasing number of students are doing internships to balance their classroom learning with real life experience. An internship provides a springboard from college life to career life, strengthens your background in your field of choice, creates the potential for future work with the company, provides potential work-related references and creates an opportunity for networking.
Why not? Experience is never a waste of time. You will either learn that you will enjoy the field that you have decided to explore through an internship or that this field is definitely not something you would like to pursue. Either way you have learned some valuable things about career-life and have defined or redefined which direction you would like to head.
Selecting sites. Select two or three sites you think would meet your needs for a successful internship experience.
Preparation. Prepare and send a resume and a cover letter to the Internship Coordinator at each site. (This is good practice for when you start searching for a permanent position. Plus, you never know when an internship may lead to full time employment with the company. Start with your best foot forward. This preparation will also show the internship coordinator that you are serious about gaining meaningful experience.)
Making Contacts. Depending on the site, the Internship Coordinator may contact you for an interview or you may need to take the initiative in setting up an interview.
- Research the company in advance.
- Practice your interviewing skills. Be prepared to explain the University's requirements to complete your internship and ask if these things can be accommodated. List several goals you would like to accomplish throughout your internship, things that you would like to learn from the internship, days and hours you will be available to work, how many hours you will need to complete to meet your University requirements, when you will be available to start and when you will need to be finished in order to complete the University requirements.
- Make a dry run. Even if you know the company's location, it still would be wise to drive to the site in advance. You never know if there will be road construction, detours, or what the parking situation may be like.
- Arrive early. (In the rare event that you may run into a delay, (i.e. unexpected accident, road delays, etc.) always have the phone number of the person who will be conducting the interview. It is better to contact the person early to inform him/her of the delay instead of explaining your tardiness when you arrive.
- Take a copy of your resume, cover letter and list of professional references for quick access if these items are requested by the interviewer or in case your materials were not received in advance.
- Ask when you may expect to know a definitive answer about the internship.
After the interview...
- Remember to send a thank you letter. This is an important part of the process that many people do not take the time to do. A thank you letter shows you are courteous, that you are appreciative of the interviewer's time and that you take care of details. Write the thank you letter!
- If you have not heard from the Internship Coordinator in the agreed upon time, call to check on your status. Most likely you will need to start your internship at a designated time in order to complete your required hours in a timely fashion. Calling is appropriate at this point.
- Select the internship that will best serve your needs. Talk to the Internship Coordinator to establish your work schedule.
- Contact the sites you did not select to decline their offers. Speak to the specific person who interviewed you. Do not just leave a message. You never know when you are dealing with a future employer.