Do I Need a Summer Internship?

by Crissy Iglesias, College Team Graduate Assistant

Summer internship season is here, and if you visit on Career Services on any given day, you’ll find students coming in to chat with one of our counselors looking for guidance on the summer internship and opportunities search. I recently had a discussion with some of my residents about how it seems like “everyone” had their summer internship already, and they were concerned about how to pursue their own path.

What is a summer internship?

In this post, I’ll use the phrase summer internship for brevity’s sake, but the term is more all -encompassing than that. “Summer internship” doesn’t just mean working for the corporate world. It can be a research experience working with a professor on a subject you’re passionate about, or it can be working for a non-profit or social impact organization. The term is as limited as your imagination. If you check out the Penn Internship Network, our database of Penn students and information about their summer experiences, you’ll see the depth and breadth of opportunities Penn students pursued over the past summer. Feel free to search by keyword or major and poke around – the results can be illuminating!

When should I get my internship?

This is probably the question I get most frequently in my appointments, and I’m always happy to clear up misconceptions about timelines. Honestly, as the search is a very individual endeavor, the answer varies by person and organization. If you check out our Career Plans Survey Report on Summer Internships for 2013, you’ll notice that the majority of Penn students received their summer internships in the time frame of February-May, with a noticeable peak in March-April. So if you’ve been worried about being behind in your search process, fear not! As past years clearly illustrate, there’s still plenty of time for a successful search.

What do I do now?

Use your spring break (and the next few weeks) as a time for some introspection and information gathering. Think about what you really want to get out of your summer. Is it that you want to explore a new or existing career interest? Do you want to volunteer for a cause you’re passionate about? Do you want to travel and experience a place you’ve never been before? In higher education, we only get one summer per year, so it’s important that you really reflect about what you want to gain from this period.

Once you’ve determined what paths you’d be interested in pursuing, it’s time for information gathering and research. Peruse the Penn Internship Network to see what Penn students have pursued in the past, or check out our Resources by Career Field page for industry-specific tips and search tools. Know a friend who did something interesting last summer, or someone who works in a field that you’d like to know more about? Ask if you can have an informational interview with them to get more insights into their experience, and find out how you can pursue something similar. (Never heard of informational interviewing? Find out more about what it means and how to go about it.)

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Fall is Here!

by Crissy Iglesias, Graduate Assistant for the College Team.

Fall is here! You can feel it in the air: the cooler breezes, the colorful leaves swirling down around you, and possibly the most obvious sign: the number of seniors finding themselves anxious about OCR. When it seems like everyone around you is pursuing OCR, it can be hard to step back and gain some perspective. As a counselor new to Career Services, I, too, have noticed the student emphasis on OCR during Fall semester. However, I’m also armed with some helpful stats to illustrate that OCR doesn’t have to be the single determinant of success in your job search.

As you’ll see from our 2012 Career Plans survey report, only 28% of seniors found their jobs through OCR. Even more tellingly, 45% of seniors received their full time job offers from January through August (another 3% received their offers from September through November). So if you’re feeling behind on interviewing or receiving an offer, please don’t worry! Statistic don’t lie: you’re in the majority.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that typically, OCR attracts a very specific type of employer: usually those from the financial services and consulting industries. These industries know their recruiting needs very early on because they follow a set timetable of 1-2 years for graduates to stay in their entry level positions. For full-time positions, most other industries don’t start recruiting until the beginning of the Spring semester. If consulting and financial services aren’t your thing, then you can relax a little bit. However, it’s still important to be on top of your job search in Fall semester, but you can pursue this in other ways. Research companies or organizations that you’re interested in and try to learn more about what they look for in candidates. Network through conducting informational interviews or attending company information sessions. Take advantage of our resume and cover letter reviewing services, schedule an appointment to discuss your job search, or you can even drop by for a shorter walk-in appointment. We’re here to help!

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