Love Is In The Air….or maybe not quite yet!

By Barbara Hewitt

Happy Valentine’s Day! Many of you are probably thinking about roses and chocolates from your significant other, but those of us who are career counselors have been having lots of conversations with students wondering “Why haven’t I received that perfect internship offer yet? Where’s the love from all those prospective internship employers?”

On-campus recruiting can give a distorted perspective of the typical timing for internship offers. The myriad of financial services, consulting, and other (mostly for-profit) firms that visit campus each spring often  are pretty far ahead of the general population in terms of conducting interviews early in the spring and getting internship offers out quickly – often by mid February. These offers generally focus on students in their penultimate year at Penn (a.k.a. juniors) so that they can extend full-time employment offers to interns after the summer if it truly is a love match. However, what about employers in all those industries which don’t actively participate in on-campus recruiting like nonprofits, government entities, smaller firms, communication agencies…the list goes on. What about sophomores? When do they typically receive offers?

The answer is – often later in the spring. It is important that students interested in interning this summer start the process soon (or continue looking if you haven’t received an offer yet)…but it is just as important to realize that it’s not too late to find some amazing opportunities. When we look at data on when sophomores at Penn (all schools) received internship offers for Summer 2009, the most common month was April (coming in at 30.6%). Another 20.6% received offers in May, 7.1% in June, and 1.3% in July. In fact, only 23% of the sophomores received an internship offer by the end of February in 2009 (and today we are only midway through the month!).

It’s also helpful to know that sophomores found their internships in a wide variety of ways. Networking was very helpful as 30.2% found their internships through a contact. Other methods for landing internships included applying directly (26%), non-OCR Career Services resources such as career fairs, iNet and PennLink (18%), OCR (5.1%), websites (4.8%), returning to a previous employer (4.8%), participating in a special program such as SEO or Inroads (3.5%), and the catch-all “other” (7.4%).

If you’ve already started the internship search, keep moving forward with it and perhaps add some new search methods suggested above. If you haven’t started the search, jump in now if you want to intern this summer – it’s not too late! Be sure to check out all of the resources we have available on the Internships part of our website.  Also, don’t forget that nearly 100 employers will be at Penn this Friday for our Spring Career Fair. Many of them have internship opportunities available.

Author: Barbara Hewitt

Barbara Hewitt is the Executive Director of Career Services.