Let the Internship Search Begin…..

By Barbara Hewitt

Last year was the most challenging year to find internships that I have witnessed in my nearly 12 years at Penn. As the economy rapidly declined in the spring, many employers pulled back on their internship programs in an effort to save dwindling resources and an uncertainty about future hiring needs.

Fast forward to today….Happily, the economy seems to be on the rebound and the hope is that intern hiring will spring back with it as employers feel more comfortable in committing resources to their summer programs. However, even with the improvement, it is unlikely that intern hiring will return to the 2006 and 2007 levels.

We’ve just recently completed our summer employment report for the Wharton Undergraduate Class of 2010 which examines the activities they pursued last summer. You can see the complete survey by click on this link!

We can draw a few conclusions from the experiences of the Class of 2010 which will likely be relevant to the Class of 2011.  Among them:

There are a broad array of internship options to consider…even in a tight economy…
Sure, lots of Wharton students pursued financial internships last summer (even with the meltdown on Wall Street). Investment banking was still the most popular industry (with 36% interning there), but lots of students worked in other industries including consulting (12%), nonprofit/education/government (9%), investment management (9%), communications (4%), real estate (3%), manufacturing/consumer products (3%) and retail (2%). The take away? Think broadly about possibilities and don’t narrow your consideration prematurely to a small subset of opportunities.

There are lots of ways to find internships…
Less than half (45.6%) of current Wharton seniors landed their summer internships last year through on-campus recruiting. OCR is a great avenue to interview with a variety of interesting employers, but it is by no means the only way to find an internship. Nearly 11% of students reported obtaining their internships through other Career Services leads (such as non-OCR internship listings on PennLink, iNet, or career fairs), while 17% found an internship through contacts (family, friends, alumni and faculty). Nearly 10% applied directly to employers and over 3% applied through an online site. Cleary there are many ways to land an internship, and you should take advantage of all of them to increase the number of opportunities available to you.

There are many places to go…
New York remained the most popular destination for Wharton interns last summer, with 43% working there. However, California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and New Jersey were also popular choices, and nearly 12% of the class worked outside the US. (The most popular international destination was Hong Kong.) Don’t assume all the good jobs are in the Big Apple!

Internship offers come at many different times…
Most students reported receiving their internship offers between January and March, but almost a third received their offer between April and June. It’s not too late to be looking for an opportunity towards the end of the semester…in fact, that is when some of the most interesting opportunities arise, and the competition tends to be lighter since many students have already accepted offers.

So, in brief, consider a wide array of internships in a variety of industries and locations. Use different search methods in your quest, and don’t give up if you haven’t landed something by May. The perfect opportunity might be just around the corner.

As you begin (or continue) your internship search, here are some resources to help you get started:

PennLink: On-campus recruiting for internships is well underway and an excellent resource for juniors (mainly) thinking about business and technical opportunities. However, don’t ignore the non-OCR job listings on PennLink. These opportunities are posted by organizations who will not visit Penn to conduct the interviews but still want applications from Penn students. The job listings tend to be more varied in terms of geographic location, industry and preferred qualifications than the OCR listings.

iNet: This is an internship consortium created and shared by the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York University, Northwestern University, Rice University, Stanford University, University of Southern California, and Yale University. Employers interested in reaching students at all of these schools are encouraged to post their internships to iNet, resulting in a diverse set of opportunities for you.

Career Services On-line Subscriptions: Career Services subscribes to a number of resources that can help you with your job and internship search. To access them, click on Online Subscriptions Link from the Career Services library page. You will need to sign in with your PennKey and PennKey password to view the login information for each site. Some of the resources specifically useful for internships include Internships.com, Internships-usa.com, ArtSearch and EcoJobs.com which is focused on environmental opportunities. (Don’t forget that we also have loads of old-fashioned printed materials in our library as well, including quite a few internship directories!) Of course, the Vault and WetFeet Guides also available from the online subscriptions link can be extremely helpful with industry and employer research, as well as interview preparation.

Spring Career Fair: Save the date – February 19th! This is your chance to meet with a variety of employers interested in speaking with Penn students about internship and full-time opportunities. Check PennLink for details.

Career Services Counselors: We are here to help you with your search. Stop in during walk-ins or call the office to schedule an appointment to discuss your search and how we can assist you.

Author: Barbara Hewitt

Barbara Hewitt is the Executive Director of Career Services.