Navigating the dangerous waters of the internship process

Illustration courtesy of Gordon Johnson


I hate busy work, and submitting 15 different applications for various internships may be the actual textbook definition of busy work.

As a second semester sophomore, I am entrenched in the internship process. I have found myself struggling to find the motivation to keep applying for internships, especially when I have yet to receive any responses back. While this is an unfortunate byproduct of the process, I’m here to tell you not to let it deter you from putting yourself out there.

One of the hardest parts for me was finding positions that I felt I was qualified for and, more importantly, finding positions that would compliment my education as well as my interests. There are millions of internships out there, so finding one that fits your passion as well as skill set can be difficult.

Part of our tuition as students goes toward the various students services on campus. One that many students may forget to utilize is Internship and Career Services. Located on the third floor of Atherton Union, ICS provides a wide range of services that help students through the internship and job search processes.

I wanted to get ICS’s perspective on how students can get through the internship process with as much ease as possible.

Gary Beaulieu, who has been the director of ICS since 2009, spoke with me about the process of finding internships and what ICS can do to help students who may be struggling with the process.

“I would say the biggest problem students run into is networking, understanding how to start the process, who to reach out to… That’s where we can provide some help,” Beaulieu said.

Making valuable connections and expanding your network is a long process, so don’t get flustered when you see you only have a handful of connections on LinkedIn. For example, I only have seven and one of those is my mom so that gives you a good idea of how I’m doing in this part of the process.

When it comes to making valuable connections, it’s all about putting yourself out there. Especially on a platform like LinkedIn, making connections never hurts. Even if you are connecting with someone you’ve only met or spoken with once, the important part is that you’ve opened your network, which could lead to meeting another individual who may have an opportunity waiting for you.

An important part of expanding my network was making connections through my parents as well as my professors. Through my advisor, I was able to receive references and utilize those to find a few interesting opportunities in the area.

I hit a dead end over winter break. The over-exhaustion of submitting applications and never hearing back was getting to me. This is when I enlisted the help of my parents.

At first I felt like I was cheating the system and relying on someone else to get me an internship, but I quickly realized that this was not the case.

Over the years, my parents have made hundreds of connections in various professional fields. Knowing this, I told my dad what I was looking for in an internship, and he was able to get me in touch with a coworker who knows someone at a successful film production company in Chicago.

I emailed him right away and submitted my application a few days after. I did all of this in a timely manner to make sure they saw my name and were able to make the connection between myself and my dad.

Utilizing others to make connections like these is one of the most important aspects of the internship process I have started to take advantage of. Don’t feel bad when you ask someone if they know any professionals in the industry, because in the professional world, unfortunately sometimes it’s about who you know. I think this is easier at a school like Butler where we have a tight knit circle of students, professors and faculty that are all willing to help each other succeed.

Claire Jacobi, a senior sports media major, discussed her internship experiences, as well as advice on how she utilized the school and her peers to help her through the process.

“In my opinion the most difficult part of applying for internships is investing the time,” Jacobi said. “I’m thankful that Butler has internship and career services to help students, but I think even having your peers look over your stuff can be beneficial.”

Jacobi has completed five different internships, ranging from sports information at Butler and the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., to a media relations internship with the Pacers.

Jacobi’s experience is unique in that most students only complete one or two internships. Having completed so many, Jacobi is at a competitive advantage when it comes to finding a job when she graduates.

Given her experience I asked her for the best piece of advice she would give someone who is starting an internship.

“Be excited to be there,” Jacobi said. “Smile, be attentive, ask questions, and don’t be too hard on yourself if you make a mistake. I’ve learned that this is the time for mistakes and learning, and supervisors realize that some things might be totally new for you.”

Butler’s ICS offers a wide range of services that cater to all levels of preparedness and experience. Students can get help building or editing a resume, practicing interview skills, learning the job search portal Handshake, as well as LinkedIn. On top of these services, ICS plans and notifies students when there are job fairs or other career events on or near campus.

I met with one of the ICS career advisors last semester to get a jumpstart on the process. I went into the first meeting with a sub-par resume, no LinkedIn profile and little knowledge of what I was looking for in an internship.

After this first meeting, I had almost finished my LinkedIn profile, made a few connections, edited my resume and was able to narrow down my search.

Once I took those first steps, I found myself diving into the process and taking the time to search for open positions on LinkedIn and other job search websites, as well as making connections that I can utilize.

These first few steps of the internship process are definitely the most tedious, but they are also the most important. Without these basic necessities, it is nearly impossible for employers to even consider your application.

Scott Bridge, professor and internship director in the College of Communication,  gave some advice on getting through the first steps of the internship process.

“Persistence and being aggressive are really important… it rarely happens as fast as you want,” Bridge said. “It’s just a grind, but you have to keep a positive attitude, even though that may be hard, and you have to believe in yourself and believe in your education.”  

Bridge also stressed the importance of being ready for the internship. This entails having the necessary skills required for the position, but it also means being mentally ready to commit time and effort towards all aspects of the position.

Internships are much different than other jobs, and should not be thought of as a job shadow. Employers will expect you to be knowledgeable, coachable and hard working. And as the intern, fully committing to the position and all it requires you to do will make a world of difference.

Finding an internship that’s right for you is in no way an easy task. It’s going to take a lot of time and repetition, but putting in the initial work to get yourself prepared for the entirety of the process will make life much easier.

So, go put yourself out there, because the worst they can say is no.


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