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Your Winter Break Internship Search Guide

A first year student at SI recently requested that I map out a winter break internship search plan. I thought that this would be a great blog topic to share with you all, so here you go…

In the coming weeks take time to think about where you want to do your internship (in terms of both organization and/or geographic location) and what function you’d like to be working in. Consider whether you’ll want to move away from Ann Arbor for the summer or not. I do want to share the internship search success often comes easier to people who are more geographically flexible; however, finding a local internship is not at all possible – in fact, over 50% of our internships are in Michigan!

Take some time to think about organizations that you learned about in class – or organizations that are close to your interests, hobbies, ideal geographic target, or are known leaders in the function/industry that you are most interested in. I suggest making a list of twenty organizations that you are interested in working for during your internship. A “dream list? isn’t unrealistic for coming out of SI, but it’s always good to balance your list with a few “amazing organizations? to a few that you would consider as “shoe-in’s.?

Then, go and check out the website of each of those 20 companies. First, check to see if they have internships posted. Then, book mark their employment site on your computer so that you can easily access it in the coming months. I suggest checking corporate websites and other organization’s websites about once a week to see if position and internships have been updated.

Then, start cross-referencing your list of companies with the wide range of resources that SI Career Services has to offer you.

Start with iTrack. Check first to see if there are internships posted for the company you are interested in. Then, check to see if there are contacts for the company that you are interested in – if so, email them and ask them if they know of any upcoming internship openings and who is the main contact person for them. You can also request from them tips or advice on how to apply for internships with them.

You can also use the Student-Alumni Network to see if there are SI alumni working at the organizations – or even in the close geographic area – that you are interested in. Then, email them and ask them not for an internship, but for advice on how to find an internship in the area and/or suggestions for other people to talk to if they aren’t the appropriate contact for your specific interests. If there is a specific posting that you are applying to, ask them for tips on how to tailor your application documents – and you can ask them to review your resume and cover letter before sending it. And, don’t forget about checking contacts on LinkedIn in the SI Alumni group that you could contact regarding companies that you are interested in.

Back to iTrack. A little known secret about iTrack is that all internships that have been posted are archived in the system and easily accessible to you under the Jobs Menu choice – then select “Archived Employer Contacts and Jobs/Internships.? Here, you can look at internships that were posted last spring or summer and check out the org’s website to see if they have been posted again or you can email the contact requested applications details. This is a great way to plan ahead and see what is again going to be posted. I checked today as I wrote this blog and there are 554 archived internships in iTrack – and 226 currently posted ones. That’s almost 800 internships to consider!

If you want to broaden your list of organizations, Hoover’s (accessible through MIRLYN) is a great tool for learning about other orgs that fit your search range. Type in your preferred company name in the search box, click on the company’s entry, then, scroll down… You can get valuable information on what industry to search for to find other similar companies – and it will also suggest for you their top competitor – sometimes companies that you may never have heard of but are an even better fit for your interests and targets. You can find this information either under “Competitors? or by clicking on “Find Similar Companies? which allows you to narrow your search.

Don’t forget about listservs! If you aren’t on at least one professional listserv that is relevant to your specialization or career interests, you need to sign up now! You can find some great lists of listservs on the SI Career’s Online Resources site at http://si.umich.edu/careers/online-resources.htm under Job and Internship Resources by Specializations. Many of the internships that you see on iTrack are from listserv postings and contacts. You can also use the contacts that come with being part of a listserv community in order to find leads to an internship at an organization that you are interested in. If a contact from one of your “dream organizations? posts a message, follow up with them and ask them about internship opportunities at their organization. You may be surprised what your enrollment in this program can do to open doors.

Also, don’t discount your national jobs sites such as Indeed, simply Hired, or Monster. I’ve heard from students that have posted their resume on Monster that they have gotten relevant leads for positions. Just remember to keep it updated! Doing a quick and regular search on these sites isn’t a bad idea – just don’t focus all of your attention on these sites. You will have much better luck with industry specific sites such as Dice.com, the ALA jobs site LibraryCareers.org, or the Nonprofit Tech Jobs site.

If internships are posted, apply! If you would like me to take a look at your resume and cover letter, please let me know. Always, always, always have someone look over your documents before you send them – especially for your dream-list companies! If you’ve applied to one internship with a company and didn’t get it and there’s another one, go ahead and apply – just make sure that your application materials are updated and different!

There are many other resources that you can explore but this is a good start and should keep you busy for the next few months. Note that the number one way of finding an internship for MSI candidates is via networking… so I strongly encourage you to use job postings and the contacts that we make accessible to you equally. Apply to a position – but try to find a contact within the org – hopefully an alumnus – that can help move your resume along.

Questions, comments, words to share!? I’d love to hear them. Happy Internship searching…Kelly (kkowatch at umich dot edu)

Posted by kkowatch at December 18, 2008 10:54 AM

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