Three Tips on Landing Your Dream Internship

By Megan Yoder
megankyoder@gmail.com

When it comes to landing a dream internship, most people think what they want is not within reach. Some feel they don’t have the skills needed or don’t fully understand the industry that they want to pursue. During my sophomore year, I knew that I wanted to gain experience in how to train marine mammals. Sounds crazy, right? Well, after numerous resumes, cover letters and interviews, I finally landed my dream internship working with marine mammals at Sea Life Park Hawaii.

My experience working with marine life was not only a dream come true, but gave me a strong skill set that was able to transfer over to my pursuit of public relations. I learned many skills that helped to prepare me for this industry, including: ways to be an effective communicator within a large team, how to produce and run a marine show with large audiences, how to multitask and prioritize, and lastly, that communication must always be clear and concise.

While your dream internship may seem out of reach, here are three tips to make your dreams a reality.

Do your research
Prior to applying to positions dealing with marine life, I spent countless hours researching to learn about each prospective employer’s culture, work environment and expectations of their interns. Understanding the specifics behind the industry allows you to gain insights about the position and helps you to discover if the field is right for you.

Know what it takes to achieve success
Sounds simple, right? Unfortunately, many students don’t follow this pattern and are then discouraged when they don’t land their dream internship. In wanting to work with marine life, I discovered that experience working with animals and excellent communication skills are crucial. To achieve my goal, I constantly volunteered at the local animal shelter and took many communication courses.

Network
I will say it again, Network! Connections are essential in landing your dream internship. I spent a lot of time networking with marine mammal trainers and experienced interns in order to understand the field. Having these connections became extremely advantageous for me, as they gave me insights into the application process, interview tips and, ultimately, helped me land the position I wanted.

No matter what industry you decide to pursue, these tips can help you to achieve your goals to make your dream internship a reality.

Follow Megan Yoder on Twitter @MeganKYoder

Should I pursue credit for my internship?

By Janessa Hageman, PRSSA member

With summer internship start dates quickly approaching, it is important to know what options are available for receiving credit for your hard work.

The University of Iowa has two forms of recognizing internships. A student can either receive class credit or choose the zero-credit option.

There are several factors to look into when trying to decide.

“At this university, most students chose zero-credit hours and transcript notation,” said Amy A’Hearn, a career advisor on campus. That, however, does not mean that it may be the right option for you, she said.

When trying to decide, you first want to ask yourself a couple of questions:

1)    What semester will your internship take place?

2)    What does your degree audit look like? Do you need credits to help you graduate on time?

3)    Does your internship require that you receive academic credit?

4)    What is your financial situation?

Benefits of academic credit for an internship:

  • You receive academic credit at the same time as gaining professional experience
  •  Receiving credit, perhaps in the summer time, can allow you a chance to take an extra class during the regular school year or help you graduate on time
  • Some internships require it for insurance reasons

How do I receive credit for an internship?

  • You need to set up a meeting with your academic advisor to get the internship approved
  • Look at the J-School’s website (http://clas.uiowa.edu/sjmc) under the Undergraduate Programs tab and click on Internships & Job Placement to learn how many credit hours you can receive for your work
  • If you are not a journalism major, make sure to check with that department’s policies
  •  Depending on your academic advisor, you may have to follow up about the experience or write a paper after you’re done with the internship

Benefits of the zero-credit option:

  •  No tuition costs for the internship
  • The internship gets listed on your transcript, just like it would if you decided to receive credit for it

How do I apply for the zero-credit option and transcript notation?

  • You need to register the internship through HireAHawk.com. If you have never used it before, you will want to contact the Career Center (319-335-1023 or http://www.careers.uiowa.edu)
  • The internship experience must be at 10 hours a week and occupy at least one academic term (fall, spring or summer)
  • The internship must last 10 weeks if during the school year or 8 weeks in the summer
  • You will have to fill out evaluations of your internship experience midway and at the end

Follow Janessa on Twitter @janessahageman

Five Tips to Have a Successful Internship

By Emily Messerly, PRSSA Member

We’ve all heard about the importance of internships. They are the key to getting your references, building skills, and ultimately landing your first job, but only you determine what you gain from the opportunity. Through my own internship experience, which involved working as a press/legislative intern for Senator Tom Harkin in Washington D.C., I learned five things that will give any intern a successful experience.

1)    Network-How did I get such an incredible internship? I reached out to a family member who has worked for the Senator for almost twenty-five years.Building relationships with your collegues can prove beneficial when you look for a job post-graduation.

2)    Take Initiative-In my internship, some days had a lot of downtime. However, I wasn’t there to sit around, so I went out of my way to get work. There were times when it was menial, but it led to more opportunities. Employers need to see that you’re dependable, and demonstraing that you’re capable of initiative is a huge showing point for them.

3)    Don’t Ever Say ‘I’ll Never Use This’-Did I ever learn this the hard way. One day, I was asked to do a project which involved creating a spreadsheet with working formulas. Um . . .oops. Just that past fall I had taken a class that dealt with spreadsheets, and I didn’t remember a thing because I never thought I would use it. Eventually, I did figure it out, but it’s much easier to benefit from every class, and not just the ones you think are important.

4)    Learn From Experience-Your colleagues are going to be the best sources of information, because they’ve been there and done that. We had the privilege of having lunches with most of the major staff, who would go over their college and career paths. Everyone has a unique story, and you can benefit from everything they experienced.

5)    Go Above and Beyond-Doing only what you’re told simply shows your supervisor you can take direction well. Going above and beyond shows your employer that you’re hard working and can think outside of the box. Companies are always looking for innovative minds. Take every task you’re given as far as you can, even if it’s something small.

Interested in an opportunity to intern for a Senator? Go to http://harkin.senate.gov/students/intern/ for more information.

Follow Emily on Twitter! @emilymesserly

What Not to Do at an Internship

By Natalie Dubs

DON’T…

…Leave Early

..even when the boss says it’s okay. It’s never a good idea when you’re trying to prove yourself to the “real world” to take the first opportunity you get to bolt. The sun may be shinning, and your friends may be at the beach, but you signed up to prove yourself as a young professional. The stakes are set higher now than ever for interns, because the amount of people willing to intern in this economy is growing. You want to make them proud to have you, and even snag that recommendation letter at the end.

…Take Long lunches

You never want to be away from your desk for too long when you’re an intern. You never know when an opportunity may come up where it’s between you and another person and just because you’re the first one your boss sees, you get to do it. It’s happened to me and has given me more avenues to demonstrate my abilities and willingness to work and be successful

…Say “no”

NEVER SAY NO. (on a serious note, unless it’s unrealistic or inappropriate) You want to prove that you’re there to gain as much experience as they will allow. Push the boundaries a little. If your boss asks you to do something, whether it be running to Kinkos or putting together a quarterly review- never turn down an opportunity. As boring as the task may sound it will accomplish one of two things:

  1. Set you ahead of the game
  2. Give you knowledge of something you didn’t have before

…Gossip

Never talk bad about employees to employees, or anyone for that matter. You never know who is talking to who, who may be best friends with who. A lot of things go full circle in corporations and it’s almost a guarantee that someone above you, or the actual person will hear about it. Not only will it damage your reputation, but it may also hinder your work and the opportunities you get.

…Dress Sloppy

We all have days where we’d rather roll out of bed and stay in our pajamas all day, this is not the time. Wake up a couple minutes early to leave yourself some extra time to be lazy in the mornings. The sloppier you look, the less professional people will perceive you as, and that is the last thing you’re trying to accomplish with this internship.

A summer in Italy

This past summer I spent three months in Naples, Italy working with the Camp Adventure Youth Services program. I was able to provide military families with an amazing opportunity for their children, while living in a beautiful location. This program not only offers an amazing trip, but the opportunity to obtain credit hours toward your education.

With the program I spent my days working with children ages 11-13. This was a very unique experience for me as I have never really had such hands-on experience with this age group. We provided a fun environment so the children could unwind and escape from the realities of everyday life. Since they come from military families, the stresses of life can be a little bit more demanding than your typical child.

Aside from the work I did with Camp Adventure, I was able to travel all over Italy. I went to Rome, Venice, Florence, Capri Island and many other breathtaking locations. This was an opportunity I would have never been given if I didn’t get involved with this program.

I truly can’t stress enough how this abroad experience has helped with my growth as an individual as well as my growth as a professional. I think that going abroad is something that every student should participate in, whether it be studying abroad, participating in a program like Camp Adventure, or even taking a vacation. The experiences that you have while in a new culture is something that will stay with you for life.

So I encourage you, as someone with the experience to take any opportunity given to you, because in the end it could be a great chapter in your life!

By Megan McIntyre, Vice President

Summer Internship Provides Great Experience

For much of the school year last year I was like most students trying to find an internship. I waited until the end to start looking and wasn’t very intrigued with anything I came across. I started to think that maybe what I needed was one more summer of fun, being a camp counselor, after all I had just finished my sophomore year and had plenty of time to gain experience, right? I still occasionally sent out resumes to companies I thought looked interesting through the Pomerantz Career Center’s Employment Expo, but never really expected anything to come from it.

It was a Friday afternoon and I had just got home from my job at the UI Hospitals and Clinics when my phone rang from an unfamiliar number. I did recognize the area code as being from around my hometown, so I answered. Little did I know this phone call would lead to the most exciting and challenging summer job I have ever had. The voice on the other line was Patti Freko, the Director of Communications for Feldco Windows, Siding and Doors (a well known company in Chicago). She had received my resume and was interested in scheduling a phone interview with me. After talking to her, we then scheduled a time for me to come in and interview in person, as well as tour the facility. Throughout my time at Feldco during the interview, I became more and more excited about the possibilities that were being explained to me.

I went from being not really sure what to think, to being extremely excited and nervous about waiting and seeing if this amazing opportunity was being handed my way. Eventually, a week later, I got the phone call I’ve been waiting for. I had been selected for this internship.

Summer came closer and closer, and suddenly it was time to start my first day. It was a little intimidating at first, but I quickly became very close to the two other people in my office, the Marketing Assistant, Magali and the graphic design intern, Katie. It was nice to have two people close to my age in the same office. Never once did I feel like it was a chore to go into work, and I absolutely loved every minute of it.

I traveled to Indianapolis and Madison, for business purposes and got the chance to really show off my skills, by getting newspaper placements, articles and press releases picked up by various news sources. Feldco didn’t have a Public Relations department before I came, which made it a very challenging, but fulfilling task.  I also worked on sponsorships, events that would help get our name out there, and various aspects of media buying.

I will forever be grateful for the experience I received, as well as the relationships I acquired. It was the best summer job I have ever had, and made my career goals a little more clear. I recommend a summer internship to anyone, and if anyone needs help finding one or has any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

Natalie Dubs

PRSSA Communications Director 2009-2010

Not what you thought it was going to be?

By Danette Kapler

Have you ever been really excited about something, and then end up feeling disappointed when it was not all you had hoped for?  Have you ever had that happen in a job or internship situation? I have definitely experienced that feeling and know how disheartening it can be. But, here are some things I learned about dealing with a less than desirable situation at a job or internship and how it may actually end up helping you in the end.

In the summer of 2008, I was looking forward to interning with the Media Relations team with the Waterloo Bucks Baseball club. I had been a sports fan my whole life and grew up in Waterloo, and so the position seemed right up my alley and could possibly be what I wanted to do in my future career. I knew this wasn’t going to be like interning with the Chicago Cubs or anything, but I had high hopes for the experience I would gain, the people I would meet, and the fun I would have being at the ballpark.

If you think back to the summer of 2008, the news story that dominated the news in the state of Iowa was the horrific flooding that occurred all over the state. Waterloo did not get as hard as places like Cedar Rapids or Iowa City, but the city did suffer its share of damage. The baseball stadium was one of the sites to suffer. The flood was much worse than predicted, and the entire baseball field ended up going under water.

Over a month later, after the river returned to its rightful place, we worked tirelessly to clean up the stadium from the muddy and disgusting river water. The front offices were completely destroyed as well as one of the concession stands, the visiting locker room, and the merchandise stand. The main focus became getting as many games played at the stadium as possible. It was a long, difficult summer, and with all of the chaos of the flood, I was unable to get all of the experience I was hoping for.  But I may have ended up getting more valuable experience than I sometimes realize.

Working for the Bucks first of all showed me some crisis management. I was able to witness how the general managers handled the situation and did all they could do to try to savage the lost season. I also learned how to work independently.  Dealing with the disaster of the flood left my supervisors little time to worry about what I was doing in writing press releases or compiling pre-game notes.

If you ever find yourself in an internship that may not have been what you thought it would, or if a flood-like situation comes along to potentially ruin your experience, don’t let it. Make the most out of it. You never know what may end up coming from a situation and what it may add to your experiences. It may not only build your resume but also build your character as you begin your career.