Knowledge gained from experience and beyond the classroom is more important now than ever. This message was prevalent at last week’s experiential learning opportunities meeting for students in the humanities and social sciences.
At an internship-focused panel discussion, four social science and humanities students who have had internships spoke about their experiences and answered questions. The panelists said internships are invaluable, and now may be the time to look for internships for this summer.
Emma Connell, philosophy major and Student Government Association representative, gave the opening speech. She said that higher unemployment rates in the social sciences and humanities can be intimidating for graduating students, but having experience beyond classwork is a great way to get an edge on other applicants. An internship or other work-related experience can provide that in a tangible way.
Panelist Levi Bachmeier did not let a lack of experience in specific areas sway him from applying for an internship.
“Don’t let your age and maybe lack of experience prevent you from putting yourself out there,” Bachmeier said to Concordia students. “You did something to get here.”
He was not alone in this opinion. Jess Roscoe, one of the panelists who has had seven internships, said persistence is a big factor in getting a work-related learning opportunity.
Though she said she grew up in a small town and initially was not very involved in politics, she has had multiple internships on Capitol Hill.
“It really just takes one person giving you a break,” she said.
The panelists said that an internship could come from talking to anyone, so casting a wide social net is important.
Kaia Miller, another one of the panelists, also emphasized the importance of networking and researching. With the hope of getting an internship, she asked a radio company if she could talk with them to learn more. This talk, Miller said, was her sneaky way of getting an interview.
The panelists recommended tailoring a resume to each application so it only contains relevant information with the most important, rather than most recent, item listed first.
Miller stressed the importance of doing research on companies before interviews. After an internship with Minnesota Public Radio, she asked why she had been hired. She was told that she had been the only person interviewed who knew something about the company.
“It seems like a simple thing,” Miller said, “but knowing the company inside and out is super important.”
It is also important to keep trying, according to Sean Plemmons, a multimedia journalism and political science double major. He was able to get an internship last summer at the Fargo Forum.
He did not have much previous experience with this particular job, but he was able to learn a lot from the internship.
“I think it was because I was so persistent and pesky that she hired me,” he said. “I didn’t have much experience beforehand so I had to learn on the fly.”
The panelists agreed that in addition to a good resume and being persistent, being polite is helpful in getting an internship. Multiple panelists said they thanked their interviewers for their time with a thank you card or phone call. Jessie Bauer from Concordia’s Career Center said this small action is a great way to set oneself apart, as few applicants actually follow through with a thank you.
Internships can be either paid or unpaid. Regardless of which, panelists recommended working as hard as possible to get the most out of the experience. Bachmeier, since he was paid, often stayed an extra hour to learn more. Miller, who had an unpaid internship, found it motivated her to work harder.
“You make people want to pay you once you’ve worked so much,” she said.
After the internship is over, panelists agreed it is important to stay in touch with employers, as they may lead to recommendation letters or future internships.
Roscoe experienced the latter directly. One spring she found that she had no job lined up for summer, so she called her past boss. She said she was able to use past connections for another internship because she had kept in contact.
To get an internship or work-related experience, Bauer recommended looking for experiences now or shadowing companies over Christmas break. She and the panelists also stressed the importance of building a network.
According to Bauer, students wishing to land a summer internship just need to begin looking.
Roscoe said to cast a wide net when applying.
“It might be a long shot, but just throw yourself out there,” she said. “What’s the worst that could happen?”