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Tips for Finding an Internship

Michigan Alumnus talked with University experts and students for internship advice.
Read time: 3 minutes

Still looking for a summer internship? To help you succeed, Michigan Alumnus talked with two University experts who run internship programs on campus as well as students who scored great summer jobs. This list shares advice, resources, and encouragement on how to find an internship that won’t just last a summer, but will launch your career.

Consult a Coach

With so many internship opportunities, navigating the options can feel intimidating. Ashleigh Hardy, ’07, assistant director of student engagement for the internship program at the LSA Opportunity Hub, recommends meeting with one of the Hub’s Internship Program Coordinators.

“They are eager to do a deep dive and help undergraduate students start to identify their pathway,” says Hardy, adding that each specializes in a number of areas: business, tech, health, science, nonprofits, the arts, etc.

The University Career Center in the Student Activities Building also has coaches for both undergraduate and graduate students. What’s more, by joining the University Career Alumni Network you can find someone in your field and schedule a 30-minute conversation.

Pick a Program

If doing important work in Detroit appeals to you, look no further than the Applebaum Internship Program. If your goal is to work in an office job, the Hub’s On-Site Internships Program offers opportunities from coast to coast. Virtual, international, part-time, and full-time internships, as well as jobs on campus are available through the Hub’s LSA Opportunity Network and Handshake, the University Career Center’s job search site.

But if working in Washington, D.C., is your dream, look no further than the 50-year-old Public Service Intern Program (PSIP). Not only is it the largest and oldest Washington, D.C., internship program in the country, the Alumni Association started it with funding in 1970. Led by Lynn Halton, ’85, the program accepts around 100 students a year and helps them land internships with government agencies, think tanks, policy organizations, and other prestigious institutions.

The PSIP cohort meets bi-monthly during the academic year, and in the course of applying for internships students learn everything from resume writing to office etiquette.

“This program is for students who want to make a difference in the world,” says Halton, herself an alumna of PSIP. “Students get a launch on their career and a chance to network with the U-M alumni currently working in D.C.”

Know the Deadlines

Not only do the internship programs have deadlines, so do many of the recruiting cycles, explains Hardy. Financial institutions tend to recruit in early fall, but don’t despair if you are currently looking for a job in that field.

“Nonprofits looking for finance interns tend to recruit in January, so always think outside the box in any industry,” says Hardy.

While PSIP applications for 2021 are due in early September, other programs are still accepting applications for internships this summer. For instance, the deadline for Applebaum applications is Feb. 5. Similarly, just because you might have missed this year’s PSIP deadline, it doesn’t mean you can’t find a job in Washington D.C., through a different internship program.

Welcome Assistance

The process of filling out applications, interviewing, and receiving rejections can be stressful, but don’t get discouraged. “Be persistent,” says Halton.”We have students who sometimes apply for 20 to 30 internships before they get one.”

Seniors Brigid Cummings and Julia Whang, PSIP’s two student coordinators, know the challenges. Both are former interns in the program who now work four days a week helping PSIP’s current cohort through the process.

“We help with resumes, cover letters, and mock interviews that include questions asked by past employers,” explains Cummings. “The University Career Center even helps with interviewing outfits,” she says, mentioning the Clothes Closet, where students can take three pieces of professional clothing a semester.

Even securing an internship can be tricky, says Whang. “Many are unpaid and do not provide housing,” she says, adding that PSIP students are fortunate to be housed at George Washington University. “Don’t give up due to money,” she says, citing an array of scholarships available for students. “We also have local alumni willing to help students find part-time employment and affordable housing.” Most importantly, all the work is worth the effort.

“Beyond being life changing,” Cummings says, “a good experience and recommendation from an internship can help you secure that first job when you graduate.”

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