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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Perfect Timing (for your summer internship search) – REVISITED

By Claire Klieger

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post about how my experience visiting the newly opened Harry Potter World at Universal Studios over spring break (yes, I fully embrace my inner dork) resembled the frenzy of the spring internship search.  Since we’ve been seeing lots of students worried that they are “late” in the internship search game recently, it seemed appropriate to revisit this blog with some updated stats on when students actually get offers (spoiler alert: it’s not when you may think). Enjoy!

Hogwarts Castle, or as I like to call it, "Mecca."

Hogwarts Castle, or as I like to call it, “Mecca.”

…Since that section of the park was so new, our strategy was to get to the park as soon as it opened, hoping to miss some of the crowds. However, when we arrived we realized everyone else had a similar idea because the place was packed. Luckily, as the day wore on, the crowds really thinned out and we ended up having almost no wait for the HP Experience (fantastic!) or other rides. And, despite being warned to expect a two hour wait at The Three Broomsticks for lunch, we just waltzed right in and were able to be seated immediately (for the record, butter beer isn’t as tasty as one would hope).

Why regale you with old stories from my geeky spring break? It turns out that the internship search season can feel much the same way. Everyone thinks gee, I have to get started really early or all of the “good” opportunities will be taken. And there is the similar early semester frenzy of OCR. But the truth is that lots of really fantastic opportunities don’t become available until later in the semester. Most students don’t find out about their summer plans that early. In fact, hot off the presses, the summer 2012 survey data shows that for freshman and sophomores across all schools, 52% received their offers in April or later. Or, in other words, only 22% of freshman and sophomores receive their offers before March. While it is true that some industries tend to make offers earlier (financial services peaks with internship offers in February), many do not typically make offers until later. For example, for internships in both communications and with non-profits, the peak time period for offers was April. For more details on timelines for offers, summer salary trends by industry and more, check out our newly posted summer survey reports for additional details.

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Student Perspective: The Job You’ll Remember Forever

by Nick Raport, CAS ’12

So you’re looking for a job.

But not just any job. You want a job that will impress future employers, develop skills, pay you, and will be fun.

However, you know that those jobs don’t exist.

You’re wrong.

I’m a Team Coordinator for the Office of New Student Orientation and Academic Initiatives. When translated from the Penn jargon, that means I am one of the student workers who helps to put together and run New Student Orientation every fall, along with the events for the academic theme year the Provost’s Office sponsors.

During the summer, I plan all of those events you remember with fondness from your time as a freshman. Last fall, I personally oversaw Late Nights, the Penn Reading Project, and the Toga Party, to name just a few. Through the process of planning these, I built working relationships with Penn faculty and administration, both local and national businesses, and student leaders from every kind of organization imaginable. I learned how to properly compile budgets and file them within the University system, gained a working knowledge of the entire Adobe and Microsoft Office software suites, and how to run a virtual orientation using current social networking sites. I learned what to tell building administrators in order to let my event go longer without an extra charge, what to tell a caterer to get a few extra items, and how to ensure that vendors donate items for events like Pennfest.

I also maintain two major Penn websites, NSO and the Theme Year, constantly updating them and making sure they are both accurate and composed of the newest features.  Before I started this job, I just assumed that websites made themselves and were just for my viewing pleasure.

During NSO, you’re going to work. A lot. And you’ll be frustrated. You’ll want go home and sleep. Instead you’ll keep going beyond what you thought was possible. But the satisfaction of seeing all those students having the time of their lives at something that you have overseen from the moment it was proposed until the doors opened is worth it. Months later, you’ll pass people on Locust and they’ll be talking about how they want to go back to NSO, to dance amidst the statues of the PMA, to dress in togas with their entire class, and you’ll smile. Because you will know that you made that happen, that you are the reason those memories exist in the first place.

This job is very real, and not your imagination at all. This is the job you want on your resume. This is the job you will remember forever.

To apply to the NSOAI Management Internship Program for this year, search Penn Link for job #745101.  For more information, contact Troy Majnerick , Assistant Director of New Student Orientation.

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