B.hired: Review postings in B.hired, the Liberal Arts Career Network and NIC
"How to (and not to) make the most out of your internship," by Lauren Landry of BostInno, featuring Andrea Dine, Hiatt's associate director of career development
Internships are supervised work experiences that combine critical thinking and intentional reflection within your liberal arts interests. By embarking on an internship, you will be able to sharpen your skills, develop career interests and employer contacts, assess your strengths, and connect classroom theories to practical, real world settings.
A search for the perfect internship may require a good deal of time, dedication, patience, and effort, however you will be learning valuable search skills that you can use in future internship and job searches for the rest of your career. As always, Hiatt can assist you with your specific questions and needs.
It’s never too early to start thinking about your internship plans. While many timelines vary by industry (e.g. finance and government tend to have earlier deadlines in the fall, whereas media internships may be later in the spring), it is safe to say that the average search takes about three months.
First, it is important to reflect upon your interests, skills, personality, and values before starting the search process. This foundational work will enhance your internship search decision-making, as well as your materials and activities including networking, resume and cover letter writing and interviewing.
In addition, you will need to research careers so that you are sufficiently informed about career options, and are able to select a few areas of interest.
Once you have narrowed down your career interests, it’s time to figure out what is most important to you in your internship experience:
- Role – Is there a particular function you want to fill? Do you want to be doing particular tasks or using particular skills, regardless of industry? (i.e., marketing, accounting, etc.)
- Industry – Is there a particular field that you want to join, no matter what you might be doing? (i.e., education, corporate finance, museums, etc.)
- Type of organization – Do you want to work in a small or large organization? What about for a for-profit, non-profit, or government organization?
- Mission/issue area – Are you passionate about a particular issue? Do you want to work for an organization that addresses that mission?
- Other considerations – Funding, academic credit, geography, and public transportation can influence your priorities, as well.
Note: International students must receive work authorization before accepting an internship. This may take planning and time. Speak with the ISSO before making any internship plans.
Most internships are not posted online. In fact, some may not even exist yet! Many students find success in networking their way into and creating their own internships. Here's how:
Identify organizations that fit your interests
These resources may help you:
- Reference USA (accessible through LTS) is an employer database that can help you pinpoint organizations in your interest and geographic areas.
- LinkedIn has great company profiles. Plus you can browse current and past employees for potential connections.
- Networking - You may learn about an organization from a networking contact.
- Internet searches - If you have a narrow field of interest or small geographic region, keyword searches may yield results.
Find Contact Person(s)
Identify appropriate, strategic contact people. Look on organizations’ websites, on LinkedIn, or at a staff directory. You may need to utilize a general email address or phone number first in order to find the best contact person. You may need to contact several people at the same organization to prompt a response.
Network, Network, Network
Draft a professional email introducing yourself briefly and stating why you are interested in this particular organization. Mention that you are hoping to speak with someone to research the organization, and how you might contribute to their mission or role. It is unprofessional to ask for an internship, and by doing so you may leave out valuable volunteer experiences or project work that could be just as beneficial. Learn more about networking and informational interview strategies.
You may not hear back from an organization immediately. Consider a follow up email or phone call about a week after your initial contact. This will confirm your interest in the organization, as well as demonstrate your persistence and initiative.
Based on your priorities, use keywords to guide your searches. You may want to refer back to your career research for help identifying key terms for your particular area(s) of interest. Look for vernacular, industry-language, distinctive vocabulary, specialized skills, and common phrases.
There are many resources that post open positions. This is not a finite list, however you may wish to consider these in your search:
- B.hired, a Brandeis-only database, lists internships, jobs, and domestic and international company information, and allows you to create and save customized searches. Learn more about how to use B.hired effectively.
- Brandeis Internship Exchange is a place for you to search and review real internship opportunities from Brandeis students.
- Mass Stay Here Internships Site is a comprehensive statewide internship resource that allows you to search and find Massachusetts-based internships, helping you to build professional networks with local companies. Create a new account to begin your search.
- Spotlight on Careers* is a multi-functional tool where you can research occupations as well as find many industry-specific internship databases.
- Vault* is an online library includes over 90 extensive career guides, employer profiles, and over 3,000 company profiles.
- Going Global* is a great resource for finding global employment. The Going Global Country Career Guides contain resources on such topics as: job search resources, work permit and visa regulations, compensation information, resume/CV writing guidelines and examples, and cultural and interviewing advice.
- Organizations often post open internships on their own websites. Look for “Careers” or “Volunteer Opportunities” in their navigation menu, or try searching for “internship” on their site map.
- Indeed.com and SimplyHired.com are “spider sites,” meaning that they search many different websites and consolidate the results into one search.
- Idealist.org houses a database of internships and employers, particularly in the non-profit sector.
*To access these resources, log into B.hired > Resources.
The best applications are those that are targeted to a specific position or employer, so be sure to research the organization before you apply. Most applications require a resume and cover letter. Others may ask for writing sample, portfolio, transcript, and/or samples of your work.
If your applications materials landed you an interview, it is imperative that you prepare and practice. Learn more about interview preparation.
If you are fortunate enough to receive an offer of employment, you should know about all your options. Learn more about responding to offers.