Wed. Apr 8th, 2020

Networking Helps Score Internships

Finding summer jobs and internships is stressful, but there are resources to help

‘Tis the season for the first wave of midterms — and, to make things more interesting, there’s a voice in your head asking what you’re going to do instead of camping out in the library this summer. 

The correct answer, if you would like to contribute to the university’s 98% post-undergraduate employment rate, is usually to get an internship.

There is internship-hunting, then there is Wake Forest-internship-hunting, which is designed to be far less stressful. Thanks to the university, you have access to a website called Handshake. Handshake is like LinkedIn, but what makes it different is that it’s a portal for employers to directly contact students. Cultivate your profile on Handshake, first. Then, copy and paste your Handshake profile into your LinkedIn profile. 

After you’ve beefed up your Handshake profile, you should definitely shift your mouse up two inches and click on the ‘Career Center’ tab, which will lead you to instructions on how to set up an appointment with the Office of Personal and Career Development (OPCD). 

Let me tell you, friends — the OPCD is where it’s at. 

The best thing you can do for yourself is take advantage of the OPCD, which is located on the far-left side of Reynolda if you’re looking at it from the Quad. Each academic department has its own OPCD specialist who can help you build your resumé for each kind of internship you’re looking for. 

It was at the OPCD where I learned that that there’s a difference between a public-relations-oriented resumé and a fundraising-oriented resumé, for instance. Suffice to say, the specialists at the OPCD will help position you and your major for the type of internships you’re looking for. 

Now, to be perfectly honest, as a writer, I feel useless at this point because the OPCD will tell you the same thing I can tell you. Regardless, I’ll divulge what else has helped me gain footing with hiring managers — excuse me, “talent development directors”— in the past.

You should definitely, hands down, without a doubt, most certainly — if you skip this step you might as well just stop reading now — join alumni groups through that snazzy LinkedIn profile you just threw together. From this point, you should put yourself out there — as much as you can on a virtual platform — and message alumni about talking to them about their position. 

Whenever I was required to reach out to alumni for “informational interviews” in my EDU 120 class — which is a career course that the univesity offers seasonally — I dreaded it. I typed up a generic inquiry message asking alumni if I could ask them a few questions about their position at ‘X’ company and sent this message to at least a dozen people on LinkedIn. I thought that maybe two, at most, would message me back — which is all I needed for this required EDU 120 assignment.

If my memory is trustworthy, nearly all of my outreach efforts proved fruitful. I scheduled more phone calls than was required, because I didn’t want to be rude and refuse their offer to talk. I also didn’t want to pass up a new opportunity to connect with someone who works at a company I would’ve liked to get my footing in. They gave me great tips on how to get to the position that they’re in — and I had the opportunity to learn about jobs I wouldn’t have considered before. 

The hiden gem that lied in the informational interviews were when the people I interviewed opened the conversation to the company’s or department’s internship positions: which is all I needed at this point.

So, after you’ve had a solid networking conversation with a few alumni, built your Handshake and LinkedIn profiles and had the OPCD look at a few of your cover letters and resumés, it is in my professional opinion that you are ready to apply for internships.

That’s it. That’s all I can tell you. The rest is up to your own ability to set up spell check on Microsoft Word and sludge through internship applications while you’re procrastinating studying for your midterm.