Finding Jobs and Internships
Here at the HFA Advising & Career Center, we can offer you tips for successfully landing jobs and internships.
What is an internship?
Internships are short-term positions that allow you to develop job skills in a professional setting. They are done primarily by students and recent graduates and provide an opportunity to gain professional experience, build your resume and try something new related to your career interests or goals.
Why should I pursue internships?
Internships provide you with valuable opportunities to gain professional work experience. They increase confidence, build your resume, and allow you to better understand your strengths, interests, and values. Internships are an excellent way to "try out" different work environments. They can confirm a professional interest or lead to a surprising new direction. They help you establish a career network and find potential new mentors. The bottom line is internships are important because they provide you with the preparation you need to get a good job after graduation and make you a much stronger job candidate for all of your future work endeavors.
How does timing, compensation, and credit for internships work?
Internships are done during either semester, during summer or over winter break. They can be full time or part time, paid or unpaid, for credit or not, depending on the time of year and what you want. It is possible to earn academic credit for most internships, whether they are paid or not. Learn more about the credited internship process at UMass Amherst.
In addition to the academic work you have agreed upon with your faculty sponsor, these are the UMass recommended hours you will need to work to receive academic credit(s):
Internship Credits/Hours: 1 credit is equal to 40 hours
- A 3 credit internship is equal to 9 hours a week (or 120 hours a semester)
- A 6 credit internship is equal to 17.5 hours a week (or 240 hours a semester)
- A 9 credit internship is equal to 25.5 hours a week (or 360 hours a semester)
- A 12 credit internship is equal to 34.5 hours a week (or 480 hours a semester)
- A 14 credit internship is equal to 40 hours a week (or 560 hours a semester)
How can I find an internship?
In general, finding an internship is like finding a job, and there are four main steps:
- Self-assessment: Identify your goals, values, skills, interests, and strengths. Focus 2 Careers can help you learn about your strengths and preferences; identify the skills you will bring to work and learn how to talk about yourself in interviews.
- Learn about employers: Explore companies, organizations, job roles and fields through research on ONET Online and the Occupational Outlook Handbook.
- Application: Learn how to write a targeted resume and cover letter, found on our Career Skills Guides pages, and prepare your interview skills that demonstrate the match between your experience and the position.
- Decisions: Assess and respond to offers that meet your learning objectives.
This video from The Intern Hustle offers additional strategies for your internship search.
Networking — whether through a pre-planned meeting or an impromptu conversation at a conference, career fair, information session, or elsewhere — can also help you find an internship.
- Join Connect UMass for career advice with alumni
- Attend Career Fairs found on Handshake to speak directly with employers offering opportunities to UMass Amherst students
- Create a robust LinkedIn profile to connect with possible internship providers
Handshake and UMass Arts Extension Service Internships are good places to start. You can also look on employer websites, as not all internships are posted to job boards, but many are found on an organization’s website. Research employers of interest — for example: Smithsonian Institution, Penguin Random House, or the ACLU — and search under the “About Us” or “Get Involved” tab to find “Opportunities,” “Employment,” “Join us” or similar headings. Or look at the bottom of the homepage for a “Careers” link.
Other sites include:
- Credited Internships
- Internships Abroad
- Local Arts and Culture Internships
- Federal Internships
- Chegg Internships
What's a micro-internship?
Micro-Internships are short-term, paid, professional assignments like those given to new hires or interns. Projects are posted year-round, can be completed remotely, and typically range from 20-40 hours of total work across 2-4 weeks, with pay. With a micro-internship, you can add projects to your resume, build relationships with new employers, and build skills employers look for when recruiting for internships and full-time positions. Learn more about micro-internships.
Finding a job can be a daunting experience. Whether you're just beginning your search or are looking to step up your skills, we are here to help you find the right opportunity for you. Below you will find some of the more popular, general and regional job boards to help start your search. For more industry-related and major-specific job boards, please visit our Career Resources by Majors pages.
We suggest a three-method approach for job searching:
- Utilize Job boards. Find the ones that have the types of opportunities you are looking for, bookmark and check them at least once per week.
- Find and make a list of employers who are doing the type of work that interests you. Check their websites frequently for available opportunities.
- Start to build your professional network (see our Networking guide). This is how most jobs are found!
What are job boards?
Job boards or job search engines are websites where employers will post their positions. Not all job boards serve the same purpose: some are industry-specific or target a specific audience of applicants such as college students. Keep reading for a few places to start your search.
Handshake connects UMass Amherst students and graduates with top employers, offers personalized job recommendations based on your profile, and connects you to career fairs and events. Employers that post on Handshake are typically looking for college students and recent graduates, which makes it a strong place to start your job search.
Indeed and other Third Party Job Search Engines
Indeed and other similar search engines aggregate job postings from multiple sources. It's a good resource for finding many jobs, which also necessitates being more direct in narrowing down your search. These types of job boards usually require you to apply through their platform, so if you can find the same job listed on a company/organization website, it is always best to apply directly with the employer.
Navigating Job Boards
Use a variety of search terms: search engines are only as effective as the terms you use. If you find that certain search terms don't yield the results you want, try to mix things up:
- Research what terminology is used in your field.
- Use variations on keywords. For example, "Theater" and "Theatre" may retrieve different results.
- Add filters, but don't overuse them.
- Be mindful of scams or offers that seem "too good to be true"
- Keep track of your applications or prospective jobs that may be appropriate to apply for when you have more experience.
- If you see a company posting interesting jobs, visit their website and see what other jobs they have posted.
Massachusetts Job Sites
Pioneer Valley Job Sites
Teaching Job Sites
- Teach for America
- Carney Sandoe & Associates
- National Center for Teacher Residencies
- City Year
Other Job Sites
Working Abroad: Short Term
Working abroad can be a rewarding professional and cultural experience, but it can also be logistically challenging. Consider why you want to work abroad. Are you wanting to travel and experience new cultures? Is this a part of your long-term professional career goal? Are you looking to help others? There are all sorts of legitimate answers, but they will take you on different paths and to different types of employment.
Visa Requirements, Passport, and Background Checks
In order to legally reside and work in another country for an extended period of time, you will need some form of work visa. The specifics of how to get one and what kind you need vary by country. Oftentimes your employer or sponsoring institution will help you with this process, but you are responsible for knowing the stipulations of your visa and legal status. The process of assembling, submitting, and processing documentation for a visa can take time and may even involve a federal background check, so plan ahead. Also be sure that you have a valid passport—the federal government has been processing them faster these days, but it still takes time to get one.
Housing and Air Travel
Many programs and employers will offer assistance with finding housing, and some will provide it for you. Read any contract you receive carefully and make sure you understand your housing situation. Air travel can be more difficult. Some employers will offer to pay for the cost of your flight, but many volunteer and low-budget programs do not. Again, the key here is to plan ahead and to know the stipulations of your contract.
Health and Safety
Access to health care and laws protecting marginalized identity groups vary by country. You should do your research and try to find first-hand accounts of the lived experience of working in your target country. Check your current health insurance for international coverage and be sure to research what your host country or organization may provide.
There are many unregulated or semi-regulated jobs and industries in the world. One scary but not wholly unheard of scenario is when someone accepts a job and flies out only to find that their employer is not as financially or institutionally established as they thought. They then find themselves suddenly unemployed in a foreign country with a work visa that is no longer valid. It is a bad scenario, but there are ways to avoid it. Research your employer ahead of time, talk to former or current employees, and make sure you know what you are getting into.
The deadlines for submitting applications can vary by job and industry. Some established programs require application materials to be submitted by September the year before you begin teaching there. Others accept applications year-round and can move quickly. On average, though, the process of researching, preparing for, and finding a job abroad takes longer than it does in the States. If working abroad is something you want to do, you should set your goals and research deadlines well in advance.
General information and Opportunities
The International Programs Office at the University of Massachusetts Amherst offers resources for finding and applying to educational and internship opportunities abroad. This is a great first stop.
Fellowships and Scholarships
The Office of National Scholarship Advisement (ONSA) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst helps students identify and apply to nationally recognized scholarship and fellowships. Some of these scholarships offer students the opportunity to study and teach abroad.
Au Pair Positions
Au pair programs involve childcare and child supervision work in exchange for pay, room, and board in a variety of countries. The International Au Pair Association offers information about au pair programs and experiences. InstitutoHemingway offers hotel-industry and au pair jobs in Spanish-speaking countries.
Seasonal and Short-Term Agricultural Work
Seasonal and agricultural work programs pair applicants to local farms, orchards, and greenhouses. WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) is a cultural exchange and agriculture program that offers opportunities to work on organic farms across the world. OneWorld365 lists information about other agricultural programs. CCUSA offers information about international summer camp opportunities.
Volunteer and Aid Work
The Peace Corps and the United Nations Volunteers Program place volunteers to do aid and humanitarian work around the world.
Teaching English Abroad
Teaching English is one of the most common and accessible ways for Americans with a university degree to travel and work abroad. Depending on country and job type, the pay for English teachers can be very small to lucrative. Daves ESL Café (and its forums) is an excellent resource for learning about the industry and for finding work. The Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET) is an established and highly regarded teaching exchange program offering U.S. citizens English language teaching opportunities in Japanese public schools.
Work Exchange Programs
Work exchange programs offer applicants opportunities to work overseas in exchange for housing, accommodations, and sometimes pay. The Alliance for International Exchange places applicants in professional, teaching, au pair, counselor, and other work exchange programs. Cultural Vistas is another good source for work exchange programs.
United Nations Job Boards
The United Nations Job Boards posts jobs and internships for a wide variety of jobs and locations. This is a good resource to not only find jobs, but also to get a sense of what career paths exists for international work. The International Organization Employment Information website offers an overview of the types of jobs and programs the UN and other international organizations have. See also UNICEF job boards.
Idealist.org lists thousands of international mission driven organizations that may have short term work or volunteer opportunities. You can search for country or interest areas and contact them directly or see if they have posted opportunities on their websites (or listed on Idealist).
Working Abroad: Long Term
Establishing a professional career abroad is highly rewarding but can be competitive. A long-term international job is often a career goal that requires good planning. Included below are some considerations, resources, and links.
Secure a Position in the US with an International Company, then ask to Transfer
Many major corporations and organizations have offices in multiple countries. One way to begin an international career is to start in your home country working for a multinational organization, and then transfer to an overseas branch. To do this, you will need to identify industries and/or companies/organizations you are interested in. Once on board, tell your supervisor your long-term goals and do your job well.
Apply Directly to a Job Overseas
A more straightforward approach is to find jobs listed overseas and apply to them directly. You may find that many of these jobs are mid-level or senior positions that require experience and technical skills. There may not be many immediately available for a recent college graduate, but you can find paths and possibilities in the research. See Going Global for an example of an international job board.
Get International Experience
Employers will want to know that you can succeed and be comfortable in an international environment. Any experience you can obtain abroad will make your application more persuasive. Participate in a study abroad program, do community or volunteer work overseas, or work abroad short term. Learn at least one other language, especially one related to your target country.
Resources and Links
- HFA Career Center: HFA career advisors can help you identify career goals, find companies and organizations with international offices, and develop core career skills. You can make an appointment with a career advisor or use other resources.
- Transitions Abroad: Transitions Abroad publishes articles and guides for finding and preparing for work overseas. The featured articles for international careers are a good read.
- Federal Jobs Overseas: There are a number of Federal agencies that routinely employ people overseas. While the list is long, some of the more notable departments are the Departments of State/Agriculture/Commerce/Defense/Navy/Air Force/Army. Find jobs either at USAJOBS.gov (note there is a search term ‘Students and Recent Graduates’), or go to the individual departmental websites to learn more.
- International Organizations: International Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs) include humanitarian, development, and advocacy organizations. Idealist can be searched for overseas jobs or organizations by using the ‘location’ search term.
- U.S. Agency for International Development: Yet another Federal agency, USAID offers employment opportunities in civil service and international development across the globe. USAID Internships offers two programs for entry-level professionals: The International Development Intern program and the Recent Graduates program. Both serve as potential starting points for international careers.
- Teaching Internationally: Professional K-12 teachers can find work at Department of State schools, Department of Defense schools, international baccalaureate schools, and independent schools across the world. See Office of Overseas Schools, Department of Defense Education Activity, International Schools Services, or the European Council of International Schools for more information.
- United Nations Job Boards: The United Nations Job Boards posts jobs and internships for a wide variety of jobs and locations. This is a good resource to not only find jobs, but also to get a sense of what career paths exists for international work. The International Organization Employment Information website offers an overview of the types of jobs and programs the UN and other international organizations have
Courses and Certifications to Build Your Resume
Here are some professional development ideas and resources to build your career versatility and confidence.
- Consider adding one or more of these practical and applied UMass Amherst minors and certificate programs to an HFA Major: The Information Technology Minor, a Business Minor, the Professional Writing and Technical Communication Specialization, and the Arts Management Certificate Program, among others.
- Look through skills-based certificates available through UMass Online, such as Graphic Design and Digital Imaging, Paralegal Studies, Sustainable Food and Farming, Website Design and Development, Digital Marketing, Translation and Interpretation, or Multimedia Applications, among others.
- Search for the following terms to find online certifications in Grant Writing, Bookkeeping, Sales, Project Management, or Medical Assistant.
- Consider taking courses to improve your skills in software: Microsoft products, Adobe products, or Google.
- Places to look for skills-based courses in the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) world: EdX, Coursera; or look in LinkedIn Learning or Udemy.
Beware of Employment Scams
We make every effort to screen employers and job postings on the Handshake database. However, if you receive a suspicious email or phone message from an employer (from any job board), it is extremely important to exercise vigilance. Before you give out your financial information, check if they seem too good to be true.
Be very cautious. If the employer: offers to pay a large amount of money for very little work; or offers you a job without ever interacting with you; or requests you to transfer or wire money from one account to another; or offers you a large payment in exchange for allowing the use of your bank account; or offers to send you a check before you do any work; or sends you an unexpectedly large check; or if you feel uncomfortable about any job opportunity, DO NOT click on any links and DO NOT provide any information. FYI: Federal Trade Commission - Job Hunting/Job Scams" To Do List.
If you are suspicious, end all communication with the employer and contact UMass Career Development & Professional Connections at 413-545-2224 or firstname.lastname@example.org.