Having a high GPA ensures one’s entrance into a respected college or career path, right? Well... not necessarily. In today’s competitive society, good grades aren’t enough. Admissions officers and employers are looking for the whole package; including related work experience. Internships show that not only do you understand course material, but you can apply it to a real life work setting. Understandably, getting an internship is tough. It’s people’s first glimpse into their future career. But, with my experience, hopefully I can shed some light on how you can obtain an internship.
First, you need to define your goals. This is definitely subject to change; but internships give you the chance to evaluate potential career paths. If you don’t have a clue regarding what you want to do… don’t panic! Try speaking with professors of classes that you enjoy about potential careers in that field.
Next, create a resume that targets employers in that field. For example, since I want to work with children, I made sure to include my camp counselor, tutoring, and babysitting positions that I have held. No fears if your resume isn’t superb yet… this is why you are getting the internship in the first place! Typically, you may put high school activities on your resume until you have been graduated for two years. After that, it should be restricted to college experiences. “Experience” does not mean that you have to be the CEO at a Fortune 500 company at the age of 16. Rather, you can include clubs you are involved in on campus, work experience, academic awards, etc.
Not sure how to create a resume? Most schools’ career services centers will help review and edit it. This is a major help… especially if it’s your first time writing a resume and you’re not sure how to put one together. Use this service as a resource, they are there to help you and your tuition already covers it.
Now that your resume is complete, it’s time to search for open positions. First, I checked the internet and with my school’s career services center. I’m not going to lie; these resources are more helpful in some fields rather than in others. In my area (Human Development and Education) I was not finding what I was looking for. I grew frustrated with unreturned phone calls (which WILL happen to the best of us. Do not take it personally!) So, I began to dig deeper. I started to think about who I knew in the field. In my case, I remember interviewing with Dr. Sheldon Horowitz, Director of LD Resources & Essential Information at The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) as part of the admissions process to a prospective college (that was his alma mater). I specifically Google searched internship opportunities with NCLD and found that they offered a wonderful internship program. With this newfound information, I contacted Dr. Horowitz with a professional email and copy of my resume. I am now in my second year as an NCLD intern!
Finding your first internship is daunting, but once you make the effort to start searching, you’ll realize it’s not as terrifying as you think. Internships provide great experiences for your future and help you realize the career path you are destined for. Good luck and enjoy the experience!
Jill Smilowitz was diagnosed with visual perception disorders and ADHD. She is a NCLD Regina Cooper Intern from Plainview, New York, and an undergraduate student at the University of Delaware Honors Program. Jill is a Human Services major with a Spanish minor.