“What are your plans for summer break?”
If you are a college student, this question is likely one that you encounter quite often. With the spring semester well underway, having a plan for your summer break is especially pertinent. Although taking a break from your studies, visiting friends, and vacationing are important aspects of summer break, the summer break plan that I am referring to is that of an opportunity for valuable undergraduate experience through an internship.
The months of summer break provide a unique opportunity for undergraduate students to gain valuable experience in their chosen field of study. However, knowing exactly how to locate and secure such experience can be a challenging task. As a student who recently secured an internship with the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health, I wanted to take this opportunity to share what I learned throughout the process of finding summer undergraduate experience with other students.
Reach out to your university’s Career Services!
One of the first things that I would recommend to any student who is looking for a summer internship is to visit their school’s career center. Career services on college campuses are specialized in connecting students with opportunities specifically intended for undergraduate students. Check out your university’s career service website, subscribe to their email list, or schedule an appointment with a career center advisor to explore what options are available to you.
Create a LinkedIn profile
Alongside exploring your university’s career services, creating a LinkedIn profile is a great way for students to connect with organizations and companies that are searching for interns. Ensure that you have a professional headshot and bio, upload an updated resume, and link related projects that highlight your skills to your profile. In addition, be sure to connect with past employers, coworkers, and other respected professionals that you know and that are in your field of study. You can even specify in your LinkedIn settings that you are currently looking for an internship opportunity in order to increase the chances of your profile being located by potential employers.
Don’t limit your options
Perhaps the most valuable piece of advice that I have for students who are searching for a summer internship is to not limit what options are available to you. What I mean by this is to be open to new places, new people, and new experiences throughout your search, application, and interview processes. There are countless opportunities available for undergraduate students during the summer months. Whether that be in the form of a paid or unpaid internship, research experience, shadowing, or working in a particular field of interest-you just have to be open to the opportunities that come your way. Being able to gain any form of experience is better than no experience at all, and exploring new aspects of your chosen field of study could help you find new passions and forge new connections with employers and professionals.
Whether you are a first-year or a third-year student, no time is better than now for you to look into what opportunities are available to you for gaining experience in your field of study. Start your search as early as possible by going to your school’s career center, creating a professional LinkedIn profile, and keeping your options open. This will set you on the path to securing a summer internship and to gaining valuable hands-on experience!