Professional development opportunities are key to expanding and navigating your career path. Throughout the different colleges within UMass Amherst there is a multitude of different opportunities to develop your career, anywhere from help crafting the perfect resume, mock interviews, career fairs, to in person networking events with prominent alumni. While UMass Amherst does have their own head career services center, many of the colleges within UMass have their own professional development centers. Centers such as The SBS Office of Career & Professional Development, The Chase Career Center within the Isenberg School of Management, and the CNS Career & Professional Development Center to name of few, offer specialized career advice based on your major and desired career path, giving students even more guidance when it comes to career development.
One of the many professional development opportunities that recently happened here on campus was an internship panel hosted by the Department of Communication’s Peer Advising program. Events like this give students the opportunity to hear from their peers about their experience searching and completing internships, very powerful advice. As a peer advisor for the department, I was fortunate enough to be asked to speak about my various internship experiences on the panel, something I always greatly look forward to doing.
This panel was one of the many professional development opportunities hosted by the peer advising program within the Communication Department here at UMass. Some of the other events we have hosted throughout the semester consist of free LinkedIn headshots, an alumni panel, a graduate student luncheon, and a mock interview session. Our goal with these events is to aid in the development of communication students here at UMass. As peer leaders, we emphasize the importance of learning from your peers and using your resources to help others, thus leading to the annual creation of this event series and this internship panel.
Sharing My Internship Experience
For myself, I really wanted to be a part of this panel to share my experience and journey landing my various internships. I know how difficult and draining it can be to search for internship opportunities firsthand, so I really wanted to give back to students the skills and resources I developed. As I learned throughout my experience as a peer advisor, I know the importance of peer-to-peer leadership and how impactful the student perspective can be on fellow students.
Finding an Internship
Each panelist spoke on where they found their internship, which mainly consisted of a mixture of Handshake and LinkedIn. We also addressed if we received any assistance in our search. Many of us either utilized the various career service centers within UMass or older peers or mentors, both of which can be equally beneficial. Overall, we all agreed that it is highly important to use the resources provided by UMass to aid you in your internship search process.
Interviewing for Internships
We each spoke about our various interview experiences. This ranged from one-time 30-minute interviews, video interviews, to multi-step processes with super days and case studies. It was great that we all had different experiences with the interview process, since many companies take different approaches, giving students various insight as to what they might expect interviewing for an internship. Each panelist also gave some valuable best practices for interviewing, such as researching the company beforehand, having questions prepared for after the interview, sending a thank you email after the interview, and practicing your interviewing skills with friends or family.
Budgeting for Internships
There was a mixture of experience between the panelist who had paid or unpaid internships. I myself have done both before. While paid internships are great, each panelist stressed the importance of budgeting even if your internship is paid. Depending on the location of your internship, you might need housing for the duration of it as well as food and other various expenses, which can quickly add up, thus making it important to consider a budget. We also touched upon the importance of scholarship funding for unpaid internships, which can be found on Academic Works, to help offset the expenses that may come with your internship experience.
The Internship Experience
We each spoke about our office environment and what our day-to-day life looked like at our internships. Our experiences ranged from large corporate offices to smaller political offices, giving students a taste of how different each person’s internship experience can be. We spoke about the various work we did, from public radio and creating podcasts, social media marketing, tax auditing, to various political office tasks. While we had vastly different tasks, we all agreed that taking ownership of your work, asking for more work if needed, and connecting with other departments in your office were great tools to utilize throughout your internships.
Networking at an Internship
Networking was a universally important factor in all of our internships. We each stressed how important networking can be for your future. Making great connections within your internship experience can not only lead to future job opportunities, but genuine professional connections. Networking does not have to mean attending a traditional networking event; it can be inviting your coworkers for lunch or dinner after work or even simply grabbing a quick coffee. We all agreed that networking does not have to be intimidating, rather it's a benefit for expanding your career.
Internship Search Tips
- Get on Handshake and LinkedIn. This is not only a great way to find jobs and internships, but expand your professional network
- Have your resume and cover letter reviewed by a professional at career services. It is important that your resume and cover letters are in top shape for recruiting season
- Make sure you do your research thoroughly for any company you are interviewing with. Having a good grip on the company’s work and values will not only impress your recruiter but show them that you are invested in the company
- Always send a thank you email after an interview. This not only shows your gratitude but leaves a lasting impression with your recruiter
- Respect the process. Finding an internship can be as rewarding as it is draining. Remember that rejection does not mean you will never find anything. Keep your head up and keep applying — the right opportunity will come