by Evanne Montoya
For students who haven’t figured out what to do with their summer, an internship might be a great choice.
Assistant director of Career Services Sandy Nowack said internships are a great boost to resumes. Nowack’s focus in Career Services is internships.
“I think it gives students an edge over others who haven’t had it because they’ve had actual marketplace experience,” she said.
Along with making students’ resumes more attractive to potential employers, internships can help students gain confidence.
“They see that their education does fit into the workplace, that they can do the job,” Nowack said.
After students complete an internship, Nowack has them fill out a form that asks them about their experience.
According to the responses they have collected, 97 percent of students would recommend that other students also complete internships, Nowack said.
Although the experience is valued by many students, internships are also a great opportunity for networking.
About a third of students who completed internships last spring were offered positions at the end of their time with the company.
“It’s sort of like having a three-month interview with the company,” Nowack said.
While not all of those students decided to accept those positions, the offers reiterate what Nowack has found through employer evaluation of Whitworth interns.
“What we find is they really fall in love with our Whitworth students, because the students work hard, they’re bright, they’re innovative, they have great ideas, they’re energetic and employers love it,” she said.
While some of the more competitive summer internships have deadlines that have already passed, many internships have later deadlines or keep accepting applications until the position is filled. Students who plan to land a summer internship are not yet out of luck.
“It’s certainly not too late at this point,” Nowack said.
Part of Nowack’s job is to meet with students to help them find potential internships, use the resources at the university’s disposal and learn how to contact employers and use their personal networks, she said. However, Nowack is not the only resource students have available to them.
Career Services puts on three fairs every year to help students find opportunities.
Each fall and spring there is a job/internship fair in the Hixson Union Building, which usually draws around 30 employers.
This spring the fair, which will be geared more toward summer internships, will take place Thursday, April 14. The Internships Information fair for this year took place on Feb. 21.
Employers can also post jobs to the Career Services website. On the Job/Internship Search page students can search through internships that have been posted using a variety of criteria. The website contains mainly local opportunities, but some out of state options are available and students can search through internships by state.
The website is updated as employers put up posts, so students would be wise to continue to check back to the site periodically, Nowack said.
“That is a wonderful resource that sometimes I feel like is untapped, because I know at times there’s really good internships and no one is claiming them,” Nowack said.
When Nowack has good internship opportunities that haven’t been filled she often e-mails them to a professor in the discipline that it most pertains to. This allows the professors to share the opportunity with the students. Nowack tries not to send too many all-student e-mails, however when there are a lot of good opportunities she may send them out to the campus. There will most likely be an email sent later this year with postings for summer.
Students need not rely on university events to get connected. Students don’t always think about making use of their own network of family and friends as well as connections faculty members may have to find internships, Nowack said. She found that this can be a great way to find opportunities.
“The people that know you are the ones that will vouch for you and they are the ones that believe in you and will put in an excellent word for you,” Nowack said.
Some of the same services that Career Services offers to help students prepare to apply for jobs can help student in the process of getting an internship.
Both director Gordon Jacobson and assistant director Andrew Pyrc in Career Services do resume critiques for students, Nowack said. Students can e-mail their resumes to careerservices.edu to be critiqued. One of them will read it and then set up a meeting with the student in order to discuss suggested changes or additions, Nowack said.
“A lot of students use that, it’s pretty easy, pretty slick,” she said.
Mock interviews are also available on request. This is a way for students to practice interviewing and get some tips on how to make the best impression.
“For any student that’s interested it gives them a little taste of how it feels to have to think on your feet and be peppered with questions,” Nowack said.
After the mock interview is completed there will be time for the interviewer to give the student tips on what he/she can do better.
Junior Priya Yeganathan completed internships with the US Embassy in Sri Lanka during January 2010 and 2011. She found the opportunity in the summer of 2009 when she was looking at the U.S. Embassy website.
“I thought it would be a good experience to be working at the Embassy, and then for my major I had to do an internship out of the country,” she said.
Yeganathan is an International Business major from Sri Lanka. During her most recent internship, Yeganathan worked on three main projects with their public affairs department.
She helped coordinate logistics for the South East Asia Conference for the U.S.-Sri Lanka Fulbright program. Yeganathan also worked on an Independence Day program, “Dayata Kirula,” a program that the Embassy puts on in conjunction with Sri Lanka’s Independence day on Feb. 4.
“The Embassy helps people in the rural areas get in touch with technology,” she said.
The embassy brought in new Apple products.
For Yeganathan, the best part of her internship was working on a relief program.
“Sri Lanka had floods when I was back home, which was in December, so the Embassy was working on relocating people to new houses,” she said. “I got to actually communicate with people who had been misplaced by the floods; it was really great talking to them, seeing all of the countries they had gone to and all of the trouble they were going through because of the floods.”
Although she did not have previous experience in international relations, Yeganathan said she found what she had learned in business operations was useful in her internship experience.
“It really helped me to think ‘what are my goals toward this project?’ before I got a big start on it, so I think that was one of the important lessons that I learned from taking that class,” she said.