Still waiting for that dream job to arrive to you on a silver
platter? Without doing some work on your own, chances are that you
could be waiting for a long, long time.

Janna Hutz
(JASON COOPER/Daily)
Janna Hutz
The Career Center helps students improve resumes and prepare for interviews. (BRETT MOUNTAIN/Daily)

Amidst the current state of employment scarcity, experience is
key when one seeks to obtain a job. It has become commonplace for
employers to hire those who have had prior and related work
experiences, and thus, internships are must-haves for getting ahead
in the job market and students know that January and February are
not too early to start looking.

Even though a number of internships are unpaid, and some even
require menial tasks such as making copies and coffee, these
short-term work experiences, often completed during the summer,
provide beneficial job training and experience in a desired field
or career area. By simply having an internship, one can build
career networks and find mentors, gain experience that cannot be
taught in a classroom and earn letters of reference for future
employment and graduate school.

But for someone to get hold of an internship, one must be
willing to put forth the effort.

By now, virtually all students are aware that internships can
give them an edge on their job market competition. As a result,
internships, paid or unpaid, have become much harder to acquire and
one’s resume and networking skills desperately need to grab
hold of an employer’s interest. Unfortunately, many students
do not understand that the process of searching for an internship
is multi-tiered and that it requires a variety of resources.

“It all sounds so easy at first. Students tell themselves
‘I want to get a summer job!’” explained Amy
Hoag, coordinator of internship services at The Career Center.
“It can be a huge and overwhelming process, but it’s
not all that difficult; it just takes time and
organization.”

A number of students also fail to recognize the internship hunt
as their own responsibility. The Career Center, located inside the
Student Activities Building, changed its name from Career Planning
and Placement because too many students were demanding job
placement without pulling their own weight. Still, students are not
left on their own, as there are many courses they can take in their
search — they just have to cooperate and be patient.

The Career Center is a great place for students to begin their
internship search. Besides providing mock interviews, resume
critiques and a library of books on choosing a career, the Career
Center offers other helpful agents for finding internships.

Using MploymentLink, the Career Center’s new online
recruitment system, which Hoag describes as “all-in-one
shopping” for career opportunities, students can search for
job and internship positions and campus interviews. It is a logical
place for students to conduct their searches since it allows them
to pinpoint jobs according to industry and location, therefore,
streamlining the vast amount of results one could get through
Internet searches.

Information about internship programs can easily be found on
company websites — you just have to know how to look. Hoag
advises against doing a Yahoo search, unless you really want a
broad spectrum of job possibilities. Instead, one should taper
their search to a more specific level, like researching individual
corporations. Websites for employers such as NBC, Microsoft and MTV
all have links that provide details about how one can apply for
internships.

Other resources that can be used through the Career Center are
internship and experiential-learning websites. Via the many links
that are listed online, one can search for internship opportunities
with companies and organizations like TV Internships, Environmental
Careers Organization and Wet Feet Internship Programs.

The Career Center also guides students through
University-sponsored summer opportunities such as the Public
Service Internship Program in Washington and the New York Arts
Program, both having deadlines in the fall. PSIP offers selected
students the chance to explore everything from congressional
organizations and judicial offices to museums and broadcast media
jobs. With the New York-based program, possible employers range
from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to Jazz @ Lincoln Center.

And since many internship deadlines are looming ahead, the
majority around mid-February and mid-March, the Career Center is
hosting an Internship Fair on January 20 from 2 to 6 p.m. in the
Michigan Union.

Guaranteed to offer something for everyone, regardless of class
standing, the Fair will help students build networks for future job
opportunities and allow them to discuss internship possibilities
with 20 to 30 companies. To participate in the Fair, students must
register and can do so for free that day in the Union. Contrary to
popular belief, freshmen and sophomores are encouraged to attend
the Fair.

“Our first and second-year students (at the University)
are competitive enough to vie against other schools’ juniors
and seniors,” said Hoag, who mentioned that the Fair is a
smart way to gain interview experience. Hoag also noted that many
seniors opt for internships after graduation.

Academic departments can also assist students with finding an
internship in a field of interest. Certain departments, like
Communications Studies, post online listings of various internships
to which students can apply. The Office of Career Development at
the Business School, which is extremely famous for having students
pursue impressive internships in related fields, helped over 55
percent rate of it’s 2004 class with obtaining internship
positions last year.

With similar operations to the Career Center, the staff members
at the OCD view themselves as coaches for the students and they
offer a preparation workshop series with one-on-one counseling.

“At a school like Michigan, you will be in demand by
employers,” stated Al Cotrone, director of Career Development
and Academic Services at the Business School. “If you
don’t get into the game, even if it means giving corny
answers during interviews, you won’t get the job. Through
workshops and coaching, we teach students that by being focused,
you can better yourself with your search.”

The first step, recommended by the OCD, in the career search
process is a career self-assessment. This step advises students to
decide what they love to do and then turn it into a job.

“When you have figured out what skills you love to use,
apply them to the environments you had been in and think about jobs
that might ask you to use those skills in that type of
environment,” Cotrone informed.

Step two is investigating career opportunities, conduct research
and target employers. Michigan has more alumni than any other
school, and alumni would love to help out current students. This is
critical, and students should be calling for advice rather than
calling for a job.

“When you ask for advice, you are establishing a
relationship and alumni will say ‘I want to mentor this
student,’” Cotrone elaborated. “Over time, their
companies will need people to fill jobs and our students will be in
the minds of the alumni.”

Perfecting the resume is the third step, but most students think
this is the first place to start. “You should build up your
resume only after you’ve done steps one and two,”
Cotrone instructed. “Then you can design your resume to be
targeted at a particular company, thus creating a coincidental
feeling.

Having a connection to someone at a company often paves the way
nicely to scoring an internship. Cotrone suggests that you think of
your connections, be them previous employers or friends of a
friend, as professional relationships and know that any
organization would rather hire someone who comes recommended by
another.

LSA senior Allison Moore has had internships in Italy and in New
York City and explained that it really can be convenient to know
somebody in an industry of interest. At Interbrand, a branding
company in New York, Moore had an internship which she had acquired
through the assistance of a connection — a friend’s
mother.

“I believe that have an application online [for the
internship],” Moore said. “But honestly, knowing
someone in the company is the best way to get separated from a pack
of applicants because companies tend to trust their own, or at
least give those referred applicants a closer look. And I guess it
doesn’t hurt that there happened to be quite a few UM grads
on staff there!”

It is a misconception, however, that one has to know somebody in
order to nab a great internship. Hoag informed that there is
potential for those with connections to assume that they will get
an internship and will demand to get a job, but that such a mindset
can actually be a hindrance.

“Some employers take on students without a connection
because these particular students won’t have expectations and
are able to take on job training,” she said. For this reason,
it becomes imperative that students know how to network and follow
up on job inquiries. “It’s as simple as a phone call
— some employers tell me that they won’t do a single
thing with a student’s resume until that student gives them a
call,” Hoag elaborated.

Interviewing is another area where students could use some
practice. Cotrone elucidated with praise that students at Michigan
are confident, driven and they don’t want to wait for things
to happen. Yet, they need to brush-up on their self-advertising for
interviews.

“You don’t go to a party and stand next to someone
who talks about themselves for a long time. But for interviews, you
have to get comfortable with using the word ‘I’ even
though it makes people feel awkward,” he stated.

Still don’t have internship experience to boast in an
interview? Even though many employers will seek out those who have
had internships, personal achievements can still help one attain
career goals.

“A company wants to hire its interns, and it will
typically hire someone with prior work experience,” Cotrone
admitted. “But having accomplishments that a company is
looking for can be just as effective as having work
experience.”

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