Summer Internships in Chambana? Sure.

university-of-illinois-quad1A student asks, “Is it common for students to do summer internships either on campus or off campus in Champaign-Urbana area? Are there good opportunities for interns in the summer?”


“Common”? No–so many of our students prefer to spend the summer at home. Many are from the Chicago area where there are more opportunities and they can live at home for free.

“Does it happen?” Absolutely!

Among the possibilities for locating something:

  1. The LAS in CU Internship Fair, coming up on Wed., Oct. 19, 1 – 3 pm in the Illini Union. All the employers are local to CU, and some are offering summer internships.
  2. UIntern: this program places students with local nonprofit agencies for part-time unpaid summer internships. It doesn’t get underway until the spring semester, but you can find some information about it at the link.
  3. Keep an eye on I-Link–summer internships in east central Illinois do get posted there.
  4. Research Park ( Most of their internships are very tech-focused, but they do periodically offer opportunities in communications, marketing, social media, and the like. Most internships are year-round, full-time in the summer and part-time when classes start.
  5. The Illini Career and Internship Fair (details on I-Link, under “Events” tab): some local organizations come to this event to recruit summer interns.
  6. In spring, stay tuned to our webpage and emails, as other kinds of on-campus opportunities tend to come up then (both internships and professionally relevant paid employment): summer youth camps on campus that require staff, fall programs that have a summer start-up period, research opportunities, and the like.

Have questions about job-hunting, getting internships, planning for post-graduation life as an English/CW major? Email

Quad Day and YOU

Bradley Leeb/The News-Gazette Students and organizations fill the Quad during Quad Day on the University of Illinois campus. Sunday, August 25, 2013.

Sunday will be Quad Day, when the English Building gazes out serenely over a bustling quad packed from walkway to walkway with student organizations vying for your attention and membership. Go: it’s a good thing. Enjoy the swag, the mingling, the spectacle.

And keep in mind the big picture. Everything you do in college on top of your courses offers you data points about what you’re good at, what you enjoy, what you value. Don’t think of it as resume-building. No one will care particularly that you attended meetings for six different RSO’s and were the treasurer for one of them. They WILL care about the skills you develop and the stories you can tell in your interview. Did you manage a budget? Raise funds? Recruit new members? Create something that didn’t exist before? Solve a problem that had bedeviled the previous leadership? Get people to do something? How? What did you screw up? What did you get right? What did you learn about workign with other people?

The way to have good answers to those kinds of questions is to do stuff that matters to you. To that end, it helps to approach Quad Day with a strategy. Find an organization in each of these four categories

  • something you’ve done before and loved
  • something that’s completely new to you but sounds fun
  • something that will help to advance your career goals (whatever they might be at this point)
  • something that will help you make changes or solve problems that matter to you.

It’s fine if one organization fulfills two or more of those categories. Then go to some meetings. See where you feel like you can make a contribution. Make note of what attracts you or repels you. It’s good to push yourself beyond what’s comfortable, but there’s no point in doing things that make you actively unhappy. Then, as you learn more, decide where to commit your energy and time.

Recognize the value of what you’re doing! The more you can learn while you’re in college about your strengths, the more opportunities you can find to make things happen, the better off you will be in making the transition from college to whatever comes next.

Experience Matters–and is Within Reach

“I am currently reviewing resumes for an associate editor position and it’s depressing how few applicants have any experience outside of just their college classes. I know U of I is rich with opportunities, too! People just need that “push” to actually go for it. It will absolutely help them when it comes time to find a job. Not only does it help hone their writing and editing skills, but it demonstrates their interest in the field and their ability to juggle responsibilities beyond coursework.”

face-66317_1920So writes one of our alumni who works in the editing field (we’re currently updated our Alumni Mentoring Directory)

A Big-10 research university offers no shortage of opportunities to get professional experience–whether your career goal is editing, writing, marketing, PR, the tech field, media, communications… Internships are a great place to start, but they’re not the only option. Consider a part-time job, or any number of volunteer or RSO opportunities on campus that will give you scope to build your skills.

Guest Post: Gaining Valuable Experience in Legal Writing

By Michael Chan (English ’14)

I began my undergraduate career as an Architectural Studies major before making the switch to English about halfway into my sophomore year. It wasn’t an easy decision for me to make, but after extensively consulting with family, friends, and several trusted mentors, I was prepared to commit myself to the new program (and to the condensed course load that came with it). What I wasn’t prepared for, however, was UIUC_Chandeciding upon a definitive career path within the next two years.

Throughout my junior year, I met with several professors, advisors, and grad students to discuss the possibility of grad school and to get a better understanding of what an academic career would entail. I also frequented the Career Center to explore alternative career paths outside of academia. I knew that I thoroughly enjoyed research and writing, but I also didn’t want to limit my options—especially since I had only taken a handful of English courses at the time and wasn’t sure if I wanted to dedicate another 6-8 years in pursuit of a Ph.D.

As senior year approached, I decided to look for a job after graduation so that I could gain some practical work experience; this would allow me to spend some time away from academia and to develop my skills as a working professional. After sending out numerous applications, I finally received an offer to work for an immigration law firm as a legal writer. I didn’t have any experience in legal writing, but I viewed this as an opportunity to expand my writing capability. Therefore, I accepted the offer and began my first day of work on November 11, 2014.

As a legal writer, I was responsible for drafting a variety of legal documents that communicated complex and technical information in plain and accessible language (all of these documents followed a customary form and structure that were taught during the training process). I also had to present that information in a compelling light in order to support the rest of the arguments being made for a client’s case. While I’m unable to provide any further details (due to the confidential nature of my work and also at the firm’s request), it’s clear to see that the type of writing I discussed above combines several key aspects of persuasive and argumentative writing (i.e. making a claim, citing supporting evidence to substantiate that claim and to make it more convincing) with technical writing (i.e. translating complex and technical information into more relatable terms for a more general audience). It’s important to note here that legal writing is just a type of technical writing that incorporates certain elements from both of these writing styles to serve a wide range of legal services/areas—immigration law being one of them.

Being an effective communicator is central to any genre, form, or style of writing; the ability to communicate your thoughts, as well as the thoughts of others, in a clear, concise, and effective manner is critical to your overall success as a writer and it is also one of the many skills you develop as an English major. Learning a new type or style of writing can seem daunting – and it will undoubtedly take some time and practice to achieve any sort of proficiency in it – but having a solid foundation of writing experience to draw from will take you much farther along the process. The countless papers that you wrote as an undergrad, the feedback you received on those papers, what you did to improve your writing based on that feedback, the range of elective courses that you took in Creative Writing, Business and Technical Writing, Rhetoric—these all make up your collective writing experience. These are all experiences that can be taken for granted as a student, but they are all imperative to the development of your writing capability.

Working as a legal writer has added significant value to my own writing experience and it has also added a new dimension of practicality to my writing. For any English majors who are interested in obtaining valuable work experience outside of academia (or for those who just need some time away from the books before reconsidering grad school), legal writing is just one of many options for you to consider and explore.

If you would like to reach out to Michael with any additional questions, you can email him directly at