Correction appended: A previous version of this article misidentified Chatoris Jones’s gender.

The hunt for summer internships is on.

The first two months of the calendar year are typically the peak of summer internship application season for University undergraduates, and according to a University Career Center official, this year is no exception. Students looking to secure the perfect internship are currently fine-tuning their résumés, perfecting their cover letters and practicing their interview skills.

Geni Harclerode, the coordinator of internships and experiential learning at the University’s Career Center, said internships have become an increasingly important component of the college experience, which is true “this year more than ever.”

With more than 200 student internship opportunities posted on its website, the Career Center — a resource for undergraduate and graduate students in every school at the University — is often one of the first stops for students in their search for summer internship positions.

“Certainly we’re busy, and we like it that way,” Harclerode said.

This year’s search has proven to be just as competitive, if not more, than in past years, according to Harclerode. This is particularly the case for upperclassmen, she said, which is the demographic the Career Center tends to work with most often.

While some students have already heard back from the places they’ve applied to, many are now sending résumés and filling out online applications, according to Harcelrode.

Some of the most popular areas of interest for student interns are advertising and marketing, public service and pre-health, Harclerode said. She added that this year she’s seen an increased interest in social media, an internship field that didn’t exist a few years ago.

The number of students looking for entrepreneurship-related internships has also increased, she said, mentioning MPowered as a program that has seen a rise in student interest.

MPowered, a University organization that encourages students to explore entrepreneurship and create their own companies, has become more prevalent on campus in recent years. Along with working with entrepreneurship competitions, MPowered also assembles events to encourage student innovation, including Global Entrepreneurship Week, Startup Weekend and a career fair that will take place on Feb. 9.

While the number of students looking for summer internships continues to be up, Harclerode said the economy is more of a concern for students on the hunt this year than in the past. Students looking for internships in cities like Los Angeles and New York may be concerned about the high cost of living in those areas, she said.

But the Career Center has several suggestions for students with financial concerns. Harclerode said students who have apprehensions about accepting an unpaid internship can intern several days a week and also work part-time or intern for the half the summer and work the other half.

“I’m a firm believer that an internship shouldn’t be something that is only for the haves, and not the have-nots,” she said.

One of the tools Harclerode said students have utilized this year is an online internship database called the Career Center Connector.

Kinesiology sophomore Paul Kitti said the Career Center Connector has been the most beneficial tool in his search for an internship in a sports-related field. Kitti is looking for a summer internship for the first time and started his search in December. He said he has sent out his résumé and has already heard back from one company.

LSA junior Chatoris Jones said he’s found the online tool extremely advantageous as well.

“It is the biggest help I’ve ever had,” Jones said.

The Career Center also offers a feature called iPlan, which allows students to visualize all the steps of the internship search process and to understand what they want to get out of a possible internship.

Though students tend to use the Career Center’s services later on in their college careers, Harclerode said students often say they wish they had come in earlier. The Career Center encourages students to start taking advantage of their resources as early as freshman year, she said.

Jones said he feels pressure to get an internship this summer since he’s an upperclassman now.

“This year, especially because I am a junior, it’s extremely competitive because I feel like I’m running out of time,” he said. “A message to everyone is just to get out there and go for it. Definitely start connecting now.”

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