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Internship IQ: How To Score An Internship & Utilize Penn State’s Career Services

Since your first day at Penn State, parents, professors, and advisors have probably been hammering the importance of securing an internship before you graduate into your head. Finding and applying for an internship can be a stressful process, and there’s no shame in needing a bit of guidance. 

Luckily, Penn State has plenty of resources and advice to help you navigate the internship world.

Nittany Lion Careers

Starting with the basics, Nittany Lion Careers is a recruiting program that gives students, employees, and alumni the ability to search and apply for jobs directly on its website. The single-system website allows students to curate their searches to their specific qualifications and interests, while also providing any necessary information about their preferences. If job-seeking websites like Indeed or Glassdoor seem intimidating to you, a service closer to home is a great place to start. 

Career Fairs

Career fairs are another great way to dip your toe into the world of internships, especially in terms of making connections. Penn State’s career fairs provide a space for you to meet a variety of potential employers in person, which can give you a better grasp of the type of work and work environment you’re seeking. Any questions or concerns you might have can be answered right then and there, and you get the chance to make an impression on employers. All you need to attend a career fair at Penn State are some business casual clothes, which you can even acquire for free from Penn State’s Professional Attire Closet, and copies of your resume. Information on upcoming Penn State career fairs can be found here.

Career Counseling

Penn State’s various resources are helpful, but knowing how and when to use them is key. Staring at a list of resources can be intimidating, and you might be tempted to just close your eyes to them. Ignorance is bliss, right?

That anxious procrastination along with many other aspects of the process is what Penn State’s career counseling services aim to help you overcome obstacles and find success.

Define Your Interests

Student and Alumni Relations Coordinator Lauren Granese works with Penn State’s Career Enrichment Network to guide students toward a life after college that fits them. As a Penn State alum herself, Granese has been through a similar process to the one many students are experiencing now.

“The more that [a job] aligns with your strengths and values, the more meaning you’re going to derive from those different work environments,” Granese said.

Career counselors help students to identify the values, skills, and interests that will lead them to an internship or job that suits them. Defining how you make decisions and what those decisions are based on is a great step toward finding a path that matches you. Is your biggest concern location? Salary? Work environment? You chose Penn State, for example, and you can make a decision like that again.

“Our past decisions can be a reflection of how we make future decisions,” Granese said.

Make A Plan And Follow It

In addition to figuring out what career path might work for you, career counseling can also help you form a plan of action in your internship search. Sometimes just getting started can be scary, and you might feel the time whizzing by you, but Granese reassured students that it’s never too late to start.

“The time is going to pass whether or not you have a career plan,” Granese said. “So, I always say that when I’m meeting with students, I meet them where they’re at.”

Granese believes that breaking down your long-term goals into smaller, more attainable steps can be incredibly helpful. Whether that first step is completing one application a week, making a career counseling appointment, or even just polishing up your resume, setting reasonable goals for yourself is the key to avoiding stress.

Respond To Offers And Rejections

Once you’ve pushed through every bump in the road and followed your plan, the only thing left to do is wait. Waiting sucks, plain and simple, and getting a response can be just as grim.

“I view it as a type of grief,” Granese said about receiving a rejection.

Taking the time to process the loss while also maintaining strength and resilience is what Granese suggested to be the most proactive way to deal with an undesirable response. Acknowledge those emotions, but manage them, too. It can be hard to stay optimistic, but there are plenty of yeses in your future.

If you’re unsure of where to start, career services are centralized and decentralized across the university. The Bank of America building houses all centralized career services, meaning anyone can find guidance ranging from career counseling to employer relations and events information. Decentralized career services are located within each college for students of that specific college, and are listed here.

More information and tips about the internship and job search can be found on the Penn State Student Affairs website.

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About the Author

Megan Dougherty

Megan Dougherty is a senior majoring in English and an associate editor at Onward State. She loves making music, consuming the maximum daily amount of coffee recommended by the FDA, and overanalyzing Taylor Swift lyrics. Feel free to follow her on Instagram @meganedougherty and forward any (free) The Eras Tour tickets to her email, [email protected]

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