OPINION: How to find the right internship


A graphic to help show where to find an internship. 

Kelly Krabill Opinion Writer

It’s time to start applying for summer internships. Emails come through your inbox every day with new opportunities and just by the click of a button, the application process begins. With the scroll of the mouse, you fill out your name, address, birthday, career goals, and so on. 

Cover letter, resume and portfolio are pulled from your computer and attached to the application. The only thing left to do is hit send and wait for a response. 

A prolonged delay happens before your finger reaches across the screen to hit submit. A magnifying thought glares in your mind: Are you sure this is the right internship? Does it reflect your career goals and promise you a job after graduation?

Backspace. Delete. Start over.

How do you figure out what internship is right for you? With so many options – paid, unpaid, local, out of state – it can be an overwhelming experience. The pandemic has brought a set a new challenges to find what you’re looking for. College students deal with enough stress trying to balance jobs, attend classes and social distance from friends. Students have four years to build an exceptional resume that stands out from their peers. If every single moment counts, how do you know if you’re making the right decision?

College students across the United States use Handshake; the number one site for young professionals to find jobs and internships. While the pandemic is underway, 48% of students are concerned about finding a job when they graduate and 64% of students think the best way to know which employers are still hiring during this unprecedented time is to share which jobs and internships are available, according to a recent survey from Handshake. Handshake created a list of 500 companies,including dozens of Fortune 500 companies, hiring students right now. In-demand companies across all 50 states and industries range from A-Z by company name on the list. 

But not all students use Handshake to find internships. A variety of other methods are used to find the company they want to work for. 

One Kent State student used Google.

Looking to expand her resume outside of Kent State employment and organizations, KentWired copy editor and senior English major Summer Corson searched on Google. “I wanted to gain outside experience at an organization that wasn’t necessarily tied to Kent State so that’s why I decided to go onto Google … so my resume didn’t just say Kent State University.”

Eric van Baars, associate professor and director of the school of theatre and dance said the number one-way students find their internships is networking through friends.

“Looking within your own network of who’s worked there, getting recommendations and researching them online; social media is a big part of that … before applying and committing.” 

A program director said she works with students directly to tailor their interests.

“We have a site directory that is distributed to students and they use that to determine which organizations they would like to pursue,” said Kathleen Bergh, program director of nonprofit studies.

Students are also encouraged to attend the Career & Internship Fair held each semester, Bergh said.

Career-related events are listed on Kent State’s website under Career Exploration & Development. Events, such as career fairs, give students the opportunity to talk with employers looking to hire interns. Career ready resources are also listed on the site for students to prepare for the big day. Virtual drop-in sessions are a way for students to get help with questions about majors and careers, resume and cover letter critiques, navigating Handshake, increasing networking skills and learning interviewing tips, according to the website. 

Corson’s internship was not only posted on Google, but she found it on a virtual career fair through Kent State and LinkedIn. Virtual drop-in sessions help students create a cutting-edge resume so they can stand out from other applicants.

Before you begin a search for an internship that fits your needs, it’s important to know what you’re looking for. Indeed, an employment-related search engine for job listings, explains how to set internship goals. They offer four steps:

  1. Define what you are passionate about 

  2. Think about the overall goal of your internship

  3. Set measurable goals

  4. Write down your goals

Students can schedule an appointment with a career advisor to discuss their goals under the Career & Development section of Kent State’s website. 

Corson had specific goals when looking for an internship: editing blogs and websites. Understanding what kind of experience she wanted to gain from an internship helped narrow her search and apply for specific positions. But you might need to look a little further she says. 

“It’s really helpful to look at the description in order to see if the internship will meet any goals that you have because sometimes the title is just so broad … it just said business and marketing. It didn’t say website intern.” 

She currently interns at Empowered and Poised, a nonprofit organization in Cleveland where she works on the company’s website and edits the blog.

 Kelly Krabill is an opinion writer. Contact her at [email protected].