Experiential Learning Opportunities Can Help Guarantee Career Success
By Mark Kenyon
Assistant Director for Experiential Learning
The spring semester is upon us and, while students should be concentrating on their academics after the long winter break, chances are that they are also preoccupied with straightening out their class schedules and preparing for March Madness. But while it may feel as if summer is a million miles away, students who are in the market for summer internships may not have as much time as they think. Many internship application deadlines occur in the next few months. If students wait until the end of April to begin their internship searches, they may end up missing the boat.
Fortunately, if your UM student has not yet begun their internship search, all hope is not lost. Students can also find comfort in a bold initiative from the President's Promise. The goal of the President’s Promise Initiative is to give undergraduate students an integrated learning experience that goes far beyond the classroom. The focus is to help students navigate through all options to select the best opportunities to complement academic pursuits. Students may find opportunities in living/learning programs, research experiences, public and private sector internships, learning communities, international experiences, service-learning experiences, and opportunities for leadership. Dedicated faculty and staff will help students chart a course to enhance their academic experience.
Students can prepare for their internship search using strategies that can help insure success. First, students can develop a general idea of what they are looking for from an internship experience. Students should take time to consider what interests them, what their talents are, what career fields they would like to explore and what specific career skills they would like to acquire, improve and/or develop.
Next, students should work to develop the tools necessary for their internship search by drafting a resume and cover letter and have them critiqued by a career counselor in the University Career Center during a same-day career counseling appointment. Building a network of contacts (family, friends, students, and faculty) that can connect with professionals in the career field of your choice is another step in the right direction. The University Career Center’s networking tool, called Terp Network, can be a great asset toward this effort.
The University Career Center has many other internship resources to offer. By visiting the 3rd floor of the Hornbake Library, South Wing, students can research industries, professional associations, internship directories, or possible post-baccalaureate training in the University Career Center Resource Room. Students can also peruse available positions by logging onto to the TERP Online job database or hone their interviewing skills with Virtual Mock Interviewing.
Lastly, students should also consider seasonal/summer employment or even creating their own internship experience. Employers rely heavily upon student employees to meet their increased need during the summer. Student-initiated internships are a growing trend. In fact, many of the interns who report the most satisfying experiences have created their own internships.
So, how can you help your student navigate through this process? Encourage him or her to visit the University Career Center to learn more about our programs and services. Next, have your student sign up for a free TERP Online account. In addition, you can partner with them to help them start their searches early to help ensure their success.