What do Madeline Albright, Dick Clark, Bill Gates, Ronald Reagan, Monica Lewinski and Oprah Winfrey have in common? Besides being celebrities, all were interns before their careers took off.
One of GW’s biggest attractions is its prime location in D.C., a mecca of internship opportunities. Students can work at the White House, newspapers, think tanks, law firms, government agencies, marketing agencies, lobbying firms, television stations and non-profit groups, among other organizations.
“We do not have any substantial information on how many GW students are involved in internships; however, each year approximately 75 percent of GW students participate in ‘work experiences’ outside of the classroom,” said Jeffrey Dagley, the communications coordinator at the Career Center. “These work experiences include internships as well as cooperative education positions, federal work-study jobs and regular part-time jobs.”
Students say there are many reasons why they want internships. Getting an internship is a great way to learn about a particular industry and to explore industries and companies as potential career options.
“I became an intern for a few reasons. I wanted to build my resume and gain some real world job experience,” said senior Michelle Gesser about her internship with Energy Argus, a publishing company that puts out newsletters concerning the energy industry. “I researched and wrote my own articles for three of the newsletters, updated databases and looked for articles through different sources. I had only really worked summers before, and I thought it would be a good experience to take on a position for a longer period of time.”
Two important things students need to get an internship are time and patience. Internships are not always easy to get and often have many qualified applicants competing for the same positions.
“Apply to many places for internships – I applied to 12 for the summer already – and keep an open mind about where you’re willing to work,” said sophomore Shari Newman, who is an editorial intern this semester at Thompson Publishing Group. “It is good experience anyway to get interviews and apply, even if you do not get the internship.”
The Career Center has many resources available for students looking for internships. The center’s Resource Room has binders full of job and internship listings. The binders contain numerous listings of internships that are not published online, especially internships with smaller non-profit environmental and governmental organizations. GWTrak, an online job source linked to monster.com, which can be accessed from any computer with the center’s password, can also be helpful in the search.
The center also has resumebuilding workshops to critique resumes and cover letters within two business days, mock interviews, daily consulting hours and other workshops.
“I wanted to get an internship but I didn’t have a resume, so I went to the Career Center for help,” freshman Carissa Lee said. “A counselor sat down with me and helped me go over my life and make a resume.”
Going through academic departments is another way students can find out about opportunities. Many departments have outside contacts who send them listings of internships available to students.
“I received a notice from the School of Media and Public Affairs that CBS was hiring,” said junior Adam Copeland about how he got his internship at “The Early Show,” CBS’s morning news program.
“Send your resume out to as many people as possible, and be aggressive,” said senior Ahmadu Garba, a research assistant at the Department of Justice. “I sent my resume out to a bunch of places and I got a random call from someone (who) wanted to interview me. It is not the normal experience to get a call like that – I guess I was lucky.”
It is often easier to get a foot in the door when one has a connection. Students said networking and doing research is the best way to get internships because not many popular companies solicit interns.
“I got my internship through some connections and networking, which is the best way,” said Shilo Groover, a current intern for one of CBS’s national correspondents. “Also, just asking around and talking to people you know who have internships is a great way, too.”
Another way to find an internship is to go through programs such as The Washington Internship Program. Students must apply to this program, which has contacts around the area and guarantees internship placement. Students must pay $2,400 dollars for the program, which includes seminars and events, some weekend retreats and the fee for job placement. According to the Web site, students are accepted based more on their resumes and extracurricular activities than on their academic performance. College graduates may also apply to the program. Students are required to write a paper at the end of their experience for other students looking to get an internship at certain places.
“It’s also important to not only submit your resume and cover letter but also to follow up,” Gesser said. “If you submit a resume online, call and make sure they received it. Today, so many processes are Internet-based and you rarely talk to people. Establishing that type of personal connection can differentiate you from other applicants.”
TIPS TO BUILD A BETTER RESUME
– Appearance –
* Individualize your resume- make it stand out from others
* Make it easy to read, no excessive information
* Make it visually stimulating
* Print on high quality, white or off-white paper format
* Strongest qualifications first
* Limit to 2 pages, 1 page for every 5-7 years of experience writing style
* No grammatical, spelling, typographical or punctuation errors
* Keep it brief
– Content –
* Current address, both day and nighttime phone numbers, professional e-mail address
* Make sure that your objective is specific and focused
* Education: include majors, minors, GPA (if 3.0 or higher) and any awards, honors and scholarships
* Work Experience: include organization name, location and title held, indicate skills and responsibilities associated with each job
* Additional skills: include computer skills, language skills
For more help with your resume, stop by the GW Career Center