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I have heard the phase, “I have to find an internship ASAP” so many times in college. Freshman year, I had friends panicking about where they were going to find one in the coming year. There is a lot of pressure to find one. They are incredibly helpful in providing a skill set outside the classroom. They can introduce students to a network that can help them in the future. I have plenty of friends who, after the completion of their internship, have been offered a position with the corresponding company for after their graduation. There is a lot riding on whether you land one or not.
I am a current junior and I will be starting my first internship with the Tucson City of Gastronomy non-profit at the start of the Spring 2018 semester. It is an amazing opportunity that I cannot wait to be a part of. How did I get the position? The way I earned my internship may be different than another Wildcats’ experiences, and there is no one way to get one.
I am very lucky to have such dedicated academic advisors who work so hard to share all the opportunities available to us. My advisors are sent numerous emails from different groups and offices searching for interns, and so they will forward those emails to their students. We get a lot of emails. I was scrolling through my inbox when I saw a subject reading, “Internships with Tucson City of Gastronomy,” Gastronomy is food science so I clicked immediately. There were three positions available, and they all were geared toward different skill sets. I read through the descriptions and was intrigued, so I started my application for the position of Social Media and PR intern. It was pretty simple – I provided a resume and a cover letter explaining my interest in the program and why I was the best candidate.
Cover letters are something that all students should know how to write. No matter what field a student is in, it is important that a person can articulate one’s skill set. Only you know what you are capable of and what you have to offer. On the flip side of that coin, you do not want to oversell yourself. When writing my cover letter, I thought of the skills a social media intern would need and then thought about which of those skills I possessed. Website design was one of the first things that came to mind, and I do know a bit of HTML and CSS coding, but I am no expert. I made this clear by stating I had a beginner to a basic level understanding of the coding language. This ensures that the expectation of what is to be done in the position is not too high. Internships are meant to teach and providing learning, there should be no expectation that a student comes in knowing everything.
Then I waited, and was getting nervous when the timeline to receive a call about being a possible finalist was just about up. You already know the outcome of this story, so I clearly was a finalist and was asked to come in for an interview. I was both excited and nervous. In between the time I applied and received a call, I had applied to a different internship, received an interview, and was rejected for the position. This added a lot of pressure. As a junior, I was thinking about what I was going to do if I did not get this position that I so badly wanted. College flies by and I felt as if I was running out of time. But that is not productive thinking, so I thought back to all the skills I put down in my cover letter and the content of my resume. I knew that I would be good at this job and that I just had to be myself. I went in for my 8:00 am interview, dressed to impress, and nailed it. I was prepared to clarify my skill set and I also had prepared a few questions for the interviewer about the expectations. I heard back just a few hours later that I was the clear candidate for the position. I cried tears of joy and immediately called my mom after to share the good news.
It can be very stressful trying to find an internship. But I encourage all students to try and relax. The University of Arizona has so many resources that are in place to help students find internships to apply to as well as assistance in the application to them. The Career Services Center has many resume and cover letter guides, interview tips, and so much more. Most of all, be confident in yourself. After getting over the initial nervousness I realized, I have so many skills that I have learned from both my classes here and the extracurriculars I am involved in that make me a competitive candidate. Just keep your eyes peeled and do not give up.