Preparing for a job can take a student four to five years of coursework, however, outside of that coursework one of the most popular ways students prepare is through participating in internships.
With deadlines approaching as soon as next month, there are many different ways to prepare for an internship opportunity and to stand out among other candidates also preparing for the same position.
Ross Meloan, director of Career Services, said there are five questions students should ask before applying to an internship.
The first thing to question is whether the internship is paid or unpaid.
Meloan said there are labor laws that most internships will follow; however, some internships still offer no pay for your work.
“Sometimes you are going to have to do unpaid to get your foot in the door,” Meloan said. “We want to do what we can to appreciate the internships that are paid.”
The second area to look into is if the internship relates to your major or minor.
There are many internships that may be specifically related to certain majors, areas or concentrations. Some students have already participated in course related internships.
James Nance, senior occupational safety and health student from Slaughter, Ky., completed an internship at Anadarko Petroleum Corporation in Houston, Texas this summer.
Throughout his 12-week term, working 50 hours per week, Nance was part of the corporate Health, Safety and Environment team. As an OSH student, this experience was interrelated to the work he was doing in the classroom.
“I supported the other divisions of the company, did inside auditing, and traveled to field offices and helped them,” Nance said.
Meloan said the third thing for students to analyze is the expectations of the employers.
The fourth tip to think about is if the internship is supported by students’ academic departments.
Meloan said it is important to understand that some internships do not give course credit for their work and students should be aware of the opportunities to gain credit through the academic department.
The fifth tip is to think about when students will participate in the internship. There are certain times of year where internships are available. Different jobs require different terms of employment.
Internships may be involved in the spring and fall; however, if a student is choosing to complete a summer internship, deadlines are quickly approaching.
Meloan said that an extra tip is to participate in multiple internships and by doing jobs within the business they would not have thought to try in the past.
“After a couple of semesters you become a little more professionally oriented,” Meloan said. “As you get into your academic major and minor your internship may be a little more oriented and the last opportunity may be to get involved with an employer of choice.”
Cody Sieben, senior occupational safety and health student from Belle Plaine, Minn., completed his second internship this summer at Marathon Petroleum in Texas City, Texas. Previously, Sieben participated in an internship at Hilmerson Safety Services Inc. in Savage Minn.
“When I worked for Marathon I worked at a refinery and I was pretty much a part of everything safety related,” Sieben said. “I did a lot of fall protection inspections on the units in the refinery.”
To get through the application process, whether it is the first or second internship, an interview may be conducted. This is where Meloan says students may find a weakness.
“(Students) don’t sell themselves which is the biggest weakness of all,” Meloan said. “Our students constantly think that sending out a resume and cover letter will get them a job. If they get an interview they don’t sell their selves.”
Meloan said this is a frequent complaint by a lot of employers. When students work on these skills, as well as self-promotion, benefits may arise.
“Every interview is a possibility for a new opportunity for your life,” Nance said. “I always take as many interviews as I can because I know each one possesses a new opportunity for me. My tip is that you should never say no to an opportunity, and the best way to know if you like a job or anything is an internship, an internship is so temporary, no contract and no commitment after it’s over.”
Story by Tiffany Whitfill, Staff writer