Internships are a huge aspect of life at Catholic University. Hear from Anna G., a resident of Northern Virginia and a sophomore at Catholic U. studying politics, on her experience and advice on searching for internships.
One cold afternoon in February I sat in the stacks of the library on campus and began my search for an internship or job for the upcoming summer. When people asked me what I was doing that summer my response was “making money.” I had this vision in my head of me and my two best friends hopping on a plane the next summer and jetting off to Paris. I could see it happening and I knew I would need some cash to get there. I searched for barista jobs, paid internships, server jobs, anything that would pay and seemed interesting. It took me months of applications, interviews, and even some rejections before I finally landed my first internship. From there I continued to search and ended the summer with 3 internships in my field of interest. So here are my suggestions for having a busy summer that will leave you with a full resume:
- Start Early
One of the most discouraging parts of searching for an internship was seeing a job that I knew I could be good at, only to discover the deadline had passed. Most summer internships begin accepting applications at the beginning of spring, some are as early as February. I dropped the ball on the deadlines this year, but as I was searching for programs I liked I would put the dates in my calendar for next year. If you miss one deadline, move on, but make sure you’re aware of it for next year.
- Use your connections
Most people think connections come from parents or your parents’ friends but this summer I discovered this is not the case. While connections from your parents are helpful, I realized there are a plethora of other connections to help with your internship search. Use your high school alumni network, use alumni from Catholic, use any club interests, if you were a part of Scouts, or any other unique organization; all of these qualify as a network that can be used as a personal connection between you and a future employer.
- Send so many emails
At the beginning of the summer I sent emails to all of my representatives in the General Assembly. My roommate had to press the send button for me the first time, I was so nervous just blatantly asking for a job. I emailed Senators, Delegates, and members of my county’s party. It felt weird at first, but by the end I was a pro. While I didn’t get a job initially from these emails, later in the summer I met a campaign manager who recognized my name because I had contacted his office about summer work. He interviewed me the next week and hired me as an intern on a campaign!
- Network, Network, Network
The first internship I received this summer was working on a campaign for a candidate running for governor in my state. When I showed up for the first day of work I was met with a day full of phone calls and canvassing. Turns out it was glorified volunteering (aka unpaid). On the night of the primary I attended a party to watch the results and ran into my former high school principal. She introduced me to a high school alum who is now working for a local senator. I spoke with her and expressed my interest in summer work. She gave me her card. As I was leaving I bumped into a delegate I knew who was with his new campaign manager. The campaign manager also gave me his card. This set me up for the rest of the summer. After reaching out to both offices, I set up two paid internships for the rest of the summer.
- Stay Busy
Before I started working I had a month of free time. Sounds great, right? Well, at the beginning of the summer all my friends were working or travelling. As much as I enjoyed binge watching Netflix I ran out of shows fairly quickly. So I spent my time in coffee shops in the city, reading for pleasure, staying up to date on the news, and prepping for interviews I was hoping would soon come. I also volunteered at different conventions in my hometown and in the District. This kept me focused and involved so when the time came for an interview I had done something productive that summer that I could talk about.
- Don’t get discouraged, but don’t waste your time
So it took me a little longer than most to find my summer work, but by the end I had three internships all in the field I’m interested in. I learned a lot about being a proactive student this summer. While I have always been a student who stays on top of deadlines and projects during the school year, I realized this quality had to carry over into the summer. The four years I have at Catholic are not meant to be wasted and I think that includes the summer. Even if it takes a little while, we should always be learning and always be striving to go the extra mile for success.