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Are you an early bird too?

Hi everyone--welcome to the new school year!
I've had a lot of questions from first years about getting a jump start on internship searches so I thought I'd share some information for what seem to be common questions.

Right now, most possible internship sites for the summer have just finished with this summer's interns so they probably aren't really thinking about next summer just yet. However, never fear! You can still begin to gather information to help you decide where you want to pursue an internship next year. Right now is a great time to search for information on company websites and to talk to people who have just returned from their internships.

You can see where other SI students just interned by picking up a blue sheet on the fourth floor of West Hall just outside the PEP office. If you see a location that looks interesting to you, email the student or come and ask us in career services for more information. Remember: locations don't really tell you much about what someone did for a summer. Case in point, I, myself, interned at the Detroit Symphony music library this summer. While I did some library work, it wasn't the primary focus of my objectives. Having already worked as a music librarian before, the daily operations were secondary to my main project which was more HCI-focused. I definitely had to know my stuff with special libraries and archives, but ultimately the analysis I did was about usability and electronic catalogues. So, the moral of the story here is to ask people what they did and see how creative different locations get with their interns.

You can get a nice overview of this summer's internship projects with SI@work which is coming up really soon--visit www.si.umich.edu to see the event schedule. More information will be announced the closer we get to those.

Another issue I wanted to tell you all about is to be careful to not get distracted by having stars in your eyes by big and impressive names. While a lot of these big companies offer great internships (Google has a fantastic reputation, for instance), there is also a lot to be said for checking out "smaller" locations that might actually allow you get more experience. The moral of the story here is to diversify your internship searching and, when the time comes, applications. Apply for a few big ones if you're really set on the organization but don't get bent out of shape if it doesn't happen. Large organizations usually get lots of applications but sometimes the gems are found in the smaller organizations. Case in point, I turned down an internship in the motion picture archive at the Library of Congress. "What the heck were you thinking?!?" you ask. Well, my little grasshopper, I approached it like "shopping" (something my current grad school budget doesn't allow much of these days, sad to say). I "interviewed" my interviewers just as much as they interviewed me--maybe even more so in this case. When I repeatedly asked in different ways how I would be able to work on projects learning more difficult activities or helping to develop more complex projects, I found they could not give me a definite "yes." This tipped me off that the internship might be better for an undergrad because they were very honest and admitted that more than 50% of their plan for the position involved monotnous data entry and this didn't appear to be something they were willing to change for me.

By now, you have been introduced to the horror that is known as email spam, here at UM. However, take some time to really scan your subject lines and tuck away information that looks interesting. I created a folder last year called 'internships' and saved all sorts of emails that might come in handy later. Didn't use a whole lot of them, but I did reference quite a few.

So, think creatively! You can even try to create your own internship if you see a way to create a project in a company that does not list an internship program. Do your research this semester, and then before or after the holiday season start sending out introductory communications to see who might be interested.

I'll keep posting more tips for you as the year goes on. In the meantime, enjoy your fall schedule, crazy as it may be (trust me, I sympathize!). And remember to stop by 402WH if you need your resume reviewed, cover letter help, or want to discuss other things related to career services.

-maw :o)

Posted by maryaw at September 21, 2006 11:27 AM

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