Organizing a Fall Internship and Fellowship Open House

September 12, 2011 at 11:34 am | Posted in Advising interns | Leave a comment
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Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

Students are coming to your office in droves by now since many schools have already started fall classes.  You only have so many hours a day to answer a wide range of questions about internships, so it might be time to plan a Fall Internship and Fellowship Open House, which allows you to handle questions, allay concerns, and dispel rumors all at one time. Here are some tips to help you organize a successful event:

  • Attendance:  Invite students ranging from freshmen to graduate students and consider holding both a day session and an evening session to accommodate varying student schedules. Contact speakers and advertise the Open House on campus, using online services, faculty and student endorsements, student newspaper and fliers. Request students to sign up in advance, so you’ll know how to plan for space and light refreshments. Give students the opportunity to submit resumes in advance with the understanding that their resumes will be critiqued and then returned at the Open House.
  • Content:  Design your program in two parts—a general session that addresses issues relevant to all students followed by round-table discussions focusing on specific interest areas. The general session might feature several summer interns from different disciplines relating their own experiences as well as an intern supervisor from a company explaining what he/she is looking for in an intern and how internships can lead to jobs. You could cite colleagues on what fields are growing. According to Martin Kral, career services director at Western Illinois University, engineering and health care are “hot” fields.
    In addition, Kral said supply chain management, accounting, finance, speech pathology, special education and bilingual education have promising futures.
  • Round-table discussions:  Invite students to sign up for different small groups, which could be divided by major, type of internship (virtual, year-round, paid or unpaid, etc.),  experience or academic level, or geographical interests (global internships). Select former interns who have related experiences to act as moderators for each round-table discussion. You also might want to include a Career Center staff member to help guide the discussion. Provide hand-outs that are relevant to each topic, ensuring that all students receive accurate information, dispelling misconceptions.
  • Mock interviews and resume critiques:  Hold mock interviews in a separate session, offering several different interview styles. While some students might volunteer to participate, remember that other students would be uncomfortable. You might have a video of mock interviews that students could take home to review in the privacy of their rooms. Your own Career Center interns could handle the resume critiques or you might enlist some alumni to help, so you won’t be overwhelmed with a high volume of resumes. Take advantage of the opportunity to give the students samples of effective resumes, so they can learn how to improve their own.
  • Application process:  Direct students to your own Career Center Web site, where you’ll list all internships with deadlines and requirements as well as sample resumes and cover letters. Urge students to apply for numerous internships. Amber Ferguson, an intern at College Lifestyles, applied for 22 internships and only heard back from five.  Let students know the upcoming dates of internship recruitment fairs on campus. Suggest students browse through to see the wide range of internships and sign up for LinkedIn. Some universities offer mentorships, where experienced interns work with prospective interns.

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