Time to Start Looking for Summer Internships!

It’s that time again! Midterms are approaching and the semester will be over before we know it. For me, this means graduation, but for many others it’s time to start looking for a summer job or internship.

Internships are a great way to “test drive” a career you think you may want to pursue after graduation. It’s a great way to get experience, and the worst thing that can happen is that you discover that you don’t actually want to pursue that after graduation. That’s okay. In fact, learning what you don’t want to do is more important than discovering your dream job. After all, nobody likes being stuck in a job they don’t enjoy.

Internships. So many questions. What do I want to do? Where do I start looking? What if I don’t have all of the qualifications they are looking for? Will it require relocating for the summer? What if I don’t find an internship? All of these questions have run through my head at some point in the last few years. Looking for an internship can be overwhelming, but it’s important to start early.

What do I want to do?

While it may sound tedious, a great way to discover what you want in an internship is to make a list of activities you enjoy, skills you have (computer, communication, etc.), locations you are most interested in and anything else you want to include. Come back to the list at a later time and analyze it. What are some themes you found? Your college advisor is an excellent resource if you need assistance finding themes. They can also add any skills that you may have forgotten, especially if they know you well.

Where do I start looking?

Search the Internet and ask friends, professors and industry contacts for advice. A good place to start is by searching on the Dairy Shrine Web site under Internship Program (http://www.dairyshrine.org/internship_opportunities.php). That may spark new ideas as well.

If you are looking for a dairy farm internship, ask professors as they may have several contacts and can keep an ear open for internship opportunities. I found my dairy internship in 2009 through the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin Web site. My Dairy Club advisor sends announcements of internships and other opportunities to club members and that was one that caught my interest. I don’t know if they offer it every year, but looking into programs like that which match students with dairy farmers is a great way to get started.

I mention talking with professors about internship opportunities a lot, but that’s because it has been one of my top methods for finding an internship. I found out about my internship this summer from a Dairy Club advisor I worked with through ADSA. I was interested in what was available in the Southeast within the communications realm and he had some great advice.

Ask around and find out what companies and organizations have offered internships before, especially if you don’t know the region very well.

If there is a certain organization you would like to intern for but can’t find an internship posting, contact them and ask if they would be interested in having an intern this summer. It may or may not be paid, but the experience is worth more than any paycheck.

What if I don’t have all of the qualifications they are looking for?

If you meet some of the requirements, apply. If you are looking for your first internship and don’t have prior “professional” experience, discuss skills you gained through projects in school, leadership positions held in clubs/organizations, etc.

Will I have to relocate for the summer?

My advice: don’t be afraid to move! I love Washington, but having the opportunity to experience other regions of the country during internships has been incredible. It also helps you decide if you may want to move there after graduation.

Get outside your comfort zone. Move to a place where you know no one. It will help you grow personally and professionally. I know it helped me. I lived in Atlanta for the summer and while I have many friends in the Southeast, I didn’t know anyone in Georgia. It forced me to get outside my comfort zone and learn more about myself.

What if I can’t find an internship or I don’t get hired?

This was one of my fears last year, but fortunately I got the internship. My back-up plan was to live in Pullman for the summer and take some classes to help me graduate earlier.

Use your time wisely. Not having an internship is not the end of the world, but do something to get experience. Take a computer class. Develop your communication skills. Work at the college paper, etc.

Another Perspective

Another Proud to Dairy blogger, Ashley Sears, also writes about internships in her blog “The Value of a Summer Internship.” Check it out: http://proudtodairy.ning.com/profiles/blogs/the-value-of-a-summer.

Best of Luck! Remember, be confident in whatever you do and you will be just fine.

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