Every Friday, we’ll be highlighting some helpful information specifically for first-year students. Today we’re focusing on summer jobs and internships. You can view all the previous Freshman Friday posts here.
Many first year students who come into our office have one very clear goal: securing an internship. Having that goal is a great first step, but it’s also important to be clear about the why, what, where and how of the internship search. Without this clarity, finding a meaningful summer experience can be very challenging. Fortunately, if you’re struggling with these things, you’ve come to the right place! If you need help finding a summer job or internship, here’s a few things you can expect to find at The Career Center:
Developing your Story
Our career coaches begin by talking with students about their “story” — their likes, dislikes, values, interests, and passions. We might ask what classes you’re enjoying or what majors you’re considering. We might explore your involvement in campus organizations, roles you’ve taken on, personality traits you feel proud of, or skills you have developed in your first year at Michigan. Reflecting and building on your story helps you to make better choices about industries or organizations you might want to explore. This also aids in defining your goals and purpose for engaging in a summer job or internship.
To learn about available opportunities, you can tap into our online posting system, Career Center Connector or the many other internship resources linked from our website. You may be faced with first time decisions about the experience you’re seeking, such as organization size, office culture, location preference, etc. We stress the importance of vetting options carefully before committing. One of our previous posts offers some tips and strategies when evaluating options to help you make informed choices about your summer break.
One summer… lots of ways to make it count!
At The Career Center we believe strongly in the value of experiential learning, and encourage students to understand that this experience can take many different forms. This is especially true for freshman since internships can be extremely competitive, with some open to upper class students only. So rather than emphasizing the prestige of an organization or the job title, you should focus on finding avenues that best help you explore. Some students may spend their whole summer with one organization, but others find ample learning opportunities through job shadowing, volunteering, informational interviewing, a part-time job, or a combination of these avenues. Ultimately, students who pursue opportunities with intention have the most meaningful summer experiences.
Putting the pieces together
One of the greatest benefits of a meaningful summer experience is not just the “doing” but the exposure it gives you to help in making more informed choices, in and out of the classroom, when you return to campus. As you experience your first summer as a college student, be sure to reflect (with family, friends, or us) about what you’re enjoying about your summer, and perhaps what you also find challenging. These conversations are a great foundation for a successful sophomore year!