Professors across campus have been spitting it at you since you arrived at Penn State — career hunting doesn’t officially begin until you’ve snagged at least one internship before graduation. Unfortunately, the competition to land these internships has been gradually increasing, and often it’s difficult to find one that suits your interests at all.
But here’s the good news: Penn State has multiple resources available to help you navigate the jungle that is trying to find a great internship. Here’s a list of some of these resources, as well as a few other tips and tricks to help you get the ball rolling.
Penn State’s career fairs invites you to get a head start in your job search and give you a chance to have conversations with a variety of potential employers — in person. Attending these events gives you great insight into companies that interest you across the country, and students can feel free to ask employers any questions they may have about the organization. You don’t even need to do much research to benefit from the opportunities that come from attending a career fair, and they’re also a fantastic way to even jumpstart your networking process. Check out the schedule of these events here.
Online How-to Guides
Have no idea what a cover letter is or how to write one? Luckily for you, Penn State Career Services created an assortment of online how-to guides centered around building your résumé, writing a flawless cover letter, and even sending in your information in the right order. This part of the process is something you have complete control over, so make sure you get it right. Check out these guides here.
Penn State’s Career Services does an awesome job helping students prepare for any type of interview they may have in the future. From lessons on what to wear to how to watch out for trick questions, the university offers students a plethora of valuable information focused on helping you blow your first impression out of the water. Take a look at some of these resources here.
In addition to just researching tips online, students can schedule their own practice interview with Career Services through Penn State’s Mock Interview Program. These practice sessions allow students to delve into what a real interview will entail once they start hunting for internships or future careers. Keep in mind: You need to come to your mock interview fully prepared (completed portfolio, proper dress, etc.) so you can receive the best feedback possible. Click here or email [email protected] for more information.
One of the most crucial resources for job hunting is your own academic advisor. Setting aside time to simply have a brief conversation with your advisor can help get you moving in the right direction, especially if you feel like you’re starting from scratch. Advisors can point out resources you didn’t know about before and get you in contact with another facility member who can help you with anything specific. Advising openings will vary depending upon your academic college, but you can easily make an appointment over the phone or online by visiting your college’s website.
Nittany Lion Career Network (NLCN)
Penn State has an online networking database focused on providing students with job listings and other valuable information to help them find work. Access to the program is available to all seniors at the start of the fall semester, but younger students will need to contact Career Services at interviewin[email protected] to create an account.
Start earlier than you think you need to
While internship hunting shouldn’t necessarily take precedence over schoolwork or extracurricular activities, you should take steps to prepare yourself throughout the entire school year. Find blocks of time you can dedicate to working on your résumé, compiling a list of potential internship opportunities, and sending a few emails to people you want to get in touch with. As the spring months approach and internship openings fill up, it gets harder to distinguish yourself from the mass of students scrambling to find a last-minute gig. Save yourself the stress and look like you have your life together — get your foot in the door early.
Keep an eye out for alumni
Penn State has one of the largest alumni networks in the world, and these grads are some of your greatest resources when it comes to finding an internship — especially in a world where connections can make or break your career. Penn State has alumni associations across the country, and you can easily get in touch with them by searching for their group pages on Facebook. Websites like LinkedIn make finding these folks easier by allowing you to see how many Penn State grads work at a certain company. If you have a job in mind, reach out to a Penn State alum and ask him/her questions you have about the job. You should also ask if said alum could get you in contact with a recruiter. Students cansend an email to [email protected] to potentially connect with a Penn State alumni career coach. Penn Staters want to help other Penn Staters, so taking a few minutes to reach out can work wonders when you’re feeling lost.
Build a relationship with your professors
Believe it or not, professors aren’t just there to slam you with work and publicly embarrass you for walking into class late. In fact, they want to help you reach both your academic goals and your career goals. Your English 015 professor may have a great contact for the perfect internship for you, but you wouldn’t know that unless you asked. The faculty at Penn State is an incredibly knowledgable group with a boatload of potential connections — get to know your professors. It may take a bit of extra effort to go to those office hours, but it can only benefit you.
Don’t restrict yourself to what you think you want to do
A lot of college students hunt for internships with a very specific idea of the type of work they plan to do. Having some goals in mind is great, but there’s a difference between having standards and limiting yourself to a narrow set of choices. Whether it be the location of your internship or the company you want to work for, keep an open mind. And if you get an offer that doesn’t exactly fit your idea of a “dream” job, don’t turn it down right away — it’s still an offer. At the very least, you will gain a new set of skills based around a topic you knew nothing about before. That alone makes you a more qualified potential employee.