For Students Seeking Internships
Employers expect new graduates to demonstrate skills through six to 12 months of hands-on, relevant experiences. Internships are ranked as the most desired form of experiences based on employer surveys.
Start with two simple steps to help you plan for your internship:
- Decide what experience you want. Meet with Career Services and your Academic Advisor to help you plan
- Use the most effective job search strategies (in Step 2 below). Start with Handshake
How do I find an internship?
Step One: Decide what experience you want
Knowing what types of internships you want is the first step to a successful search, and a meaningful experience. Use the My Job/Internship Target worksheet to help you.
Determine what you hope to get from the experience, such as:
- Exploring a career path you find interesting
- Building your resume by gaining professional experience
- Growing your professional network for references and future opportunities
- Developing special skills
- Scoring a “Big Name” position
- Earning academic credit and/or a salary
- Other factors might include the organization’s location, compensation, organization size, work environment, culture, mission, and vision.
Step Two: Develop an effective search strategy
- See your Career Advisor to build a strategy for finding an internship
- Enroll in UNIV 320: Internship Readiness
- Complete your profile in Handshake, Mason's source for jobs, internships, employment advice, and career fair details
- Apply for the Scholarship for Unpaid Internships through University Career Services if you can’t afford to take on an unpaid internship
- Use your Mason resources (Networking events, Job and Internship Fairs, LinkedIn)
- Begin networking by asking professors, Mason alumni, family, and friends for opportunities. Use the My Network and Career Advisory Board sheet to help you decide where to start.
- Use job/internship sites specific for your industry/career field
- Attend career fairs and other career events
- Professional Associations – find the organizations that represent the kinds of work you want to do on the Career Services industry-specific resource pages.
- Ask your professors and academic advisors about internships other students with your career interests might have had.
Ensuring Internship Success
Starting your internship means a shift in perspective from that of student to peer and colleague. You are in the internship to contribute to the organization while learning to apply your knowledge and skills in a practical setting.
Many organizations look to their interns when they have full-time openings to fill. Standing out during an internship experience will not only allow you to get the most out of the experience and secure a positive recommendation from a site supervisor, it will also position you well if a full-time opportunity does become available at the completion of your internship.
Connect with co-workers
- Build strong relationships with your supervisor and co-workers
- Identify possible mentors
- Develop strategies for staying connected after the internship
- Get recommendations as you complete the internship
Set goals for your Career & Self-Development
- Set goals for your learning, including an internship learning agreement. What do you hope to learn? What skills do you want to develop?
- Seek opportunities to learn; initiate and embrace development opportunities
- Assume duties or positions that will help you advance your skills and progress professionally
- Volunteer for further education, training, or other professional development opportunities
Reflect on the Experience
- Document and reflect on your experiences and learning regularly. Keep an active, detailed list of your accomplishments and responsibilities
- Seek honest feedback from your supervisor
- Complete a careful self-reflection on the internship experience. Articulate lessons learned. If your internship course does not provide this, here is an example
Communicate the experience
- Document evidence of competencies developed
- Shape the internship story for resume and interview enhancements. Use the Create a Resume page of the University Career Services website for help
- Update LinkedIn and other online profiles
Internship Resources from University Career Services
For students seeking an internship, University Career Services offers the following resources.
Search for internships through Handshake
Make an appointment with University Career Services
Enroll in UNIV 320 Internship Readiness to help with your internship search
Apply for the Scholarship for Unpaid Internships through University Career Services if you can’t afford to take on an unpaid internship