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Helping Your Terp Get an Internship: Advice from the University Career Center

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Helping Your Terp Get an Internship: Advice from the University Career Center

As UMD students progress through college, they should think about finding an internship for the fall, spring, or summer. Internships are a great way to explore potential career fields, gain relevant work experience, and figure out what they like or don’t like in a work environment. To get the lowdown on how to help your student land that coveted internship, we sat down with Erica Ely, Program Director of Internships in the University Career Center & The President’s Promise, for a Q&A.

What resources does the University Career Center & The President’s Promise have for helping students obtain internships?

We have a lot! There’s Careers4Terps, which is our online internship and job posting database. Employers create an account and post full-time jobs, part-time jobs, and internships knowing that only University of Maryland students and alumni have access to the system.  That means they’re actively trying to connect with our students and at any given time, we usually have about 2,000 postings in the system! 

We also have Career & Internship Fairs every semester where usually around 70% of the employers are looking specifically for interns. All throughout the semester, employers will come to campus to hold information sessions about their internship programs.  Students can find who is coming to campus easiest by checking out our events calendar.

We have our “Careers In” panels, that are topic-driven around certain career fields, and also How To Find an Internship workshops that we hold throughout the semester. UMD also has several online courses, like our EDCP 108i Internship Searching course, that takes students through the step-by-step process of finding an internship. There’s also the Intern For A Day program, which is a job shadowing program, so our students can get connected to internships that way. This year, we’re launching Intern for Day in New York City, so students can go explore different career options there.

These are just a few of the ways that students get connected to internships through our office.  There are plenty of other campus resources in which students have access to get connected to internships, too!

How can parents and families encourage UMD students and help them with the internship searching process?

Parents and other supportive family members can encourage their student to connect with us! We have a very robust events calendar, and because we’re the University Career Center, we try to appeal to all majors and all industries. If their student is a business major, they have access to Business Career Services.  If their student is an engineering major, they have access to Engineering Career Services. But we still serve both of those populations!

Also, parents and family members can think about how they are connected to the field that their student is interested in pursuing. Is there anyone that’s working within a certain organization that could potentially help the student land their first internship experience?  Many students find their first internship through networking, and that can involve family and friends.

I did a webinar through Terp Family all about how parents and families can help their students with internships.  They can find it listed on Terp Family’s YouTube channel here.

My UMD student is not a STEM major; can he/she still find an internship?

Yes! There are many opportunities out there for non-STEM majors; it’s just sometimes they need to further explore what career options are out there for them based on their skills and knowledge. Accounting majors typically become accountants, right?  English majors, for example, don’t really “go work in English,” but they might go into technical writing, or public relations, or editing. These students may need a little more assistance in learning what are the options for them based on their area of interest.  The Washington, DC area is an especially vibrant location offering a wide variety of internships in the federal government, non-profit and arts organizations, museums, and media companies, among others.  Most non-STEM majors at UMD offer multiple ways for students to obtain academic credit for their internship.

What are some memorable internships UMD students have gotten?

Wow, there are so many it is hard to choose!  Our students are everywhere - museums through the Smithsonian Institution, NASA, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Capitol Hill - you name it, our students are most likely experiencing it.  We try to make students aware of internships other students in their major have experienced through career guides that can be found on their College or major’s website.  For example, these “Explore Careers” guides share where BSOS students have interned in the past.  We have similar guides for where School of Public Health students have interned in the past, too.  It is difficult to go through every college and major right here, but encourage your student to check out resources that may be specific to them!

What advice would you give to UMD students looking to find an internship?

  1. Start early! Oftentimes, internship searching takes longer than what’s anticipated.
  2. Don’t forget about fall and spring internships as an option!  The applicant pool for large name organizations may be smaller during the fall and spring months versus the summer months when students start to compete with other students nationally - and internationally - who want to come to this area for the summer.
  3. Research what’s typical in the field you want to pursue.  Every field looks for interns a little bit differently, so it is important for students to be aware of these differences.  For example, the application deadline for federal government internships is mid-October for internships taking place the following summer.  And, federal resumes look different than industry resumes.
  4. Make sure you target your resume and cover letter to the internship job posting-- we have resume samples on our website that will help students get their application materials together.
  5. Connect with University Career Center resources and events! Employers choose to come to campus through our career fairs, information sessions, and other events to make Maryland students aware of their internship opportunities!  Engage with these events.

Anything else you would like people to know that we didn’t already talk about?

For students that are potentially taking on an unpaid internship over the summer months, we have the Bright Futures Unpaid Internship Scholarship for students taking unpaid internships with government and non-profit organizations. There are also options for students to have internships abroad through the Education Abroad office.