Looking For an Internship
January 9, 2004 2:50 PM   Subscribe

Advice on obtaining an internship/co-op, please. I've already submitted resumes to several places, but what else can I do? Something suggests that just sitting by the phone [or on Outlook] waiting for responses isn't it.
posted by casarkos to Work & Money (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What field are you in? Are you looking for a paid internship? I've both worked many internships and hired interns. Sending out resumes is OK - but probably won't get you what you want.

Now, if you're willing to intern for free, the going should be much easier. Some places pay interns, but most do not. If the experience and connections are valuable, and you can afford to work part-time with no pay, then make sure they know that. Interning is also a good way to eventually find a regular job.

I'd focus on specific companies or departments I was interested in, find out which member of management is in charge of hiring interns, make an appointment with that person, *then* being in your resume and tell him or her what you can do.

Also, if your school has a career services office, they can be very helpful in finding you an internship.
posted by sixdifferentways at 3:10 PM on January 9, 2004

Response by poster: I'm studying aerospace/mechanical engineering. A paid internship would definitely be nice, but really it's the job experience that I need.

Appointment, as in a face-to-face meeting? Would lack of transportation factor into deciding who gets hired?
posted by casarkos at 3:38 PM on January 9, 2004

I've had great success with job fairs. (Though I've heard from friends that I may be in the minority on that one.) My school has an organization which puts on four or five a year, with a big one just for engineers. I'm sure your school has something similar. Just check your school website for something like "student careers".

Be warned, though, you'll have *lots* of competition, so practice your shpiel know your stuff.

Best of luck to you.

And unpaid internships!?!? Man, that's just crazy talk.
posted by pheideaux at 4:31 PM on January 9, 2004

Contacts are much better than blind resume submissions.

Many colleges have alumni organizations that list people in diverse fields who are willing to talk to fellow alums and even provide you with an 'informational interview.'

If you are granted one, treat it in many respects like a job interview. The unspoken truth is that if the alum is impressed by your intelligence or enthusiasm, they will probably help you find that internship/job - possibly at their own firm.
posted by vacapinta at 9:16 PM on January 9, 2004

Appointment, as in a face-to-face meeting?

Yes, this can be critical. As an intern person (with presumably little to no experience), often they're looking at your enthusiasm and how easy you'll be to get along with as much as they look at your resume. Those are qualities much better communicated face to face.

Look at it this way: up until now, you've probably been submitting your resume in the hopes of getting an interview. As vacapinta indicated, if you can arrange an appointment by some other means, consider yourself having jumped ahead of the line.
posted by juv3nal at 11:04 PM on January 9, 2004

I used to be a university recruiter - Vacapinta and Juv3nal have it right - at your stage in the game, you have got to go on a lot of meet and greets.

Here is some potentially obvious advice on how to handle them:

Be polite and enthusiastic, do NOT ask about salary or benefits, do research on both the person and the company, and ask intelligent questions that display an interest in being mentored by that person. (You may think they're giant losers, but it's amazing how readily people warm up to you if they think you admire them.)
Do not take more than thirty minutes total of this person's time, and do a lot more listening than talking when you're in the meeting with him or her.
Afterwards, send them a little som'm som'm to show your appreciation - not flowers, but some cookies, a tin of popcorn, two tickets to a baseball game, whatever - it's great if it refers back to something that was said in the meeting. (These little gifts can add up on the cost but consider it an investment, like a suit and tie.) Do this so it arrives about three days later, with a short note thanking them for their time and interest, and asking if you can follow up on some lead they may have given you.
Then call them a couple of days after that and briefly get to the point regarding whatever the lead was, then ask if by chance they'd thought of anything else you can do to help get your foot in the door with XYZ company. Call them no more than once a month after that just to check in and see if they've heard anything. If they don't return your call that month, don't keep hassling them, wait another month.
If you're juggling a lot of these people, use the Outlook contact narrative area or flashcards to keep the details straight.
Again, you're trying to build a relationship with this person, even if it's just to eventually step on their face on the way to the top. Don't be a stalker but if you are a little too enthusiastic, you're a lot more likely to get noticed, and get a job along the way.
posted by pomegranate at 6:04 AM on January 10, 2004

Casarkos, I just read your question about lack of transportation, and the bottom line is that you're just gonna have to find a way to get to the office if you want to work. I wouldn't even bring it up to someone who was offering me a job - it's not their problem and if you are looking for an internship, I can guarantee you they're not gonna let you work at home or anything.

posted by pomegranate at 6:32 AM on January 10, 2004

< /representin' the man>
posted by pomegranate at 6:34 AM on January 10, 2004

almost forgot
I've already submitted resumes to several places

I don't know how many several means in your case, but hit up as many places as you possibly can. Even places that aren't explicitly saying that they have an internship/co-op position available as long as they do work that you think would fit your training.
posted by juv3nal at 4:34 PM on January 10, 2004

I am an electrical engineer, and have worked for a couple companies, big and small, for the past ten years. I've seen co-ops come and go and I'd be happy to answer more questions if you have them.
However, this is what I've seen:
The engineering job market sucks. I mean, beyond sucks. People with excellent work experience have been out of work for a year or more. People straight from school, with no work experience are going back to school and retooling. And you're in probably the worst part of the field -- aerospace has traditionallly been very difficult to find ANY jobs in at all, even when the market is booming.
However, you didn't say where you go to school, but your best bet is to find engineering firms that are local to you.
Additionally, your best bet is to find a large company, the larger the better (they're less likely to cut back on co-op positions -- it's a fixed cost in their budgets) (However, the more meaningful jobs will be at smaller firms).
Also, it's best to try for summertime positions -- that's usually when they have the most available.
Your college career center should be able to give you a contact person for each company. Call them. If they say you have no positions at this time, offer to work for free, you just want the experience. This tactic really impressed my friend's company -- someone with a college degree already called and said they'd be willing to work for free, just to get experience. The company said they couldn't do that legally, but offered to hire him on as an intern (crappy pay, no benefits), but after a year, they made him a full-time employee. Worked well for both of them.

And I really have to disagree with pomegranate re: the gifts (sorry!) -- engineers will just think the gifts are weird and inappropriate and will nix you right away. However, it is REALLY REALLY important to research the company, the group, the person, everything, just like pomegranate said... people know you probably won't know much out of school, but they like people who have a go-getter attitude and who are willing to learn.
posted by j at 7:59 AM on January 11, 2004

« Older Why are stereos measured in negative decibels?   |   Winter Vacation Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.