Yes, Internships!

It’s the time of year when internships opportunities for the fall semester abound: paid, unpaid, in the community, around campus, and even right here in the English department.

Should you apply for internships?

YES: Professional experience while you’re still in college can help in three ways: (1) building your skills, (2) helping you explore your career options, and (3) giving you evidence to present to employers of your value.

BUT: Much depends on what your goals are and what the internship offers. An internship isn’t a magic key that unlocks the door of full-time post-college employment. It’s one of many ways to get professional experience.

SO: Read internship descriptions carefully. Think about what you want to get out of an internship and the goals you have. If your goal is simply to get some experience so that you can figure out what career goals you WANT, then it makes sense to apply broadly. If you already have some ideas about your career plans, then target your efforts towards opportunities that will move you along your chosen path. Continue reading

How to Get Started? A Post for Freshmen and New Transfers

University of Illinois Quad Day.

Yes, I’m talking to you: incoming freshmen and transfers. You’re getting bombarded with information from all sides, and it’s hard to take it all in. Getting a job after graduation feels a LONG way off, and if you have any brain cells available to devote to thinking about your future career, they are probably firing randomly.

The good news: you don’t need to figure anything out right now.

The bad news? It’s not actually all that bad. It’s just this: “figuring anything out” in the future will be easier if you do stuff now. That’s really all you need to know for now: do stuff.

What kind of stuff? That depends.

  • If you need to work in college, you’ve been getting emails about how to look beyond retail and fast food openings* to jobs and internships that will help you build some professional skills. Go ahead and follow the links. If any of the advertised openings sound interesting to you, follow the instructions for applying to them.
  • Did you do a lot of extracurricular activities in high school? Don’t stop now! Your clubs, volunteer work, and recreation can give you valuable and relevant experience. The difference? You’ll have a lot more freedom in deciding how and when to fill your time. The goal now isn’t college applications — it’s learning more about yourself, what you’re good at, what kind of difference you want to make in the world (and building the skills you’ll need to make that difference).**
  • Has volunteering or community service been an important part of your life up to now? Look for ways to act on those values in college. The campus and local community offers a lot of ways to get involved, to create meaningful change, to explore your scope for leadership.
  • Did you decide to major in English or Creative Writing because you are passionate about the written word? You’ll consume and create a lot of words in your courses, but campus also offers a lot of way to produce them: editing various publications (Re:Search, Montage, Daily Illini, buzz), assisting with open mic nights, getting involved with volunteer radio and TV efforts, joining theater groups, collaborating with others on events and projects. Creating, editing, and producing original content is valuable and relevant experience.

You don’t need to do all of these things from day one! One or two alone can be the center of a meaningful college experience. The important thing is to give yourself opportunities outside the classroom to discover what you’re good at and what’s important to you. The better you understand yourself, the easier it will be to identify the career directions you want to pursue.

_____________________________________

*Of course, if you really enjoy customer service work, go ahead and do more of it! — but with purpose and direction. There are a lot of career options for people who who are good at connecting with others–particularly if you’re good enough at it to advance to a managerial role.

**Quad Day can be overwhelming, but it will expose you to the vast range of clubs, organizations, and service that is available to you. Click here for our advice on how to cope with the abundance.

Time to Get Your 2017-18 Krannert Tickets

 

Tickets for the Krannert Center’s 2017 – 2018 season go on sale tomorrow, July 8, starting at 10am. Taking advantage of this amazing resource is on our Illinois English/CW bucket list for good reason.

Student tickets are $10. Sometimes they’re less, but never more. That’s for EVERY performance, including international headlining performers like Tiempo LibreMadeleine Peyroux, violinist Joshua Bell, TAO, and the Festival of South African Arts.

There’s lots coming up for the literary-at-heart! Shakespeare, of course (Twelfth Night, this year), but also Rules of the Game (Pirandello’s absurdist play, reimagined by a team including the musician Pharrell Williams, a dancer, and a visual artist), Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins (Lin-Manuel Miranda was not the first to come up with witty political musical theater!), and Imago Theater (pushing the boundaries of storytelling with puppets, for grownups).

And of course, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (even if you live in Chicago, you will never see them as easily or as inexpensively), the Moscow Festival Ballet, the Takacs Quartet…and that’s just scratching the surface.

Our advice? Look over the schedule (if you’re in CU, you can pick up a hard copy in the Krannert lobby), pick out two or three performances you want to commit to, get your tickets online this summer, and mark the events in your calendar NOW, with a reminder a day or two before. Worst case scenario? If you realize the day before that you have an unavoidable conflict, you can usually exchange the tickets for credit towards a different event. (See details on refunds and other ticketing matters here.)

Overwhelmed by choice? We suggest a variation of our approach to signing up for clubs on Quad Day. Pick one thing from each category:

  • an event that that connects to your interests in some way (a play if you’re a theater buff, a musical performance involving the instrument you played in high school or a composer you’ve heard before, a visiting performer from a country that interests you),
  • an event that will expand your cultural experience in some way that you desire (never been to an opera or seen live ballet? want to know classical music better? trying to cultivate an ear for jazz? GO!), and
  • an event that sounds completely new and unfamiliar.

Then, when the semester is underway and you’re settled into the stressful ebb and flow of college life, you’ll have something to shake you out of your routines and give your brain a break. You will think, “Oh, I can’t possibly…why did I do this…no…I have so much to do…” but then you will go, and you will be glad you did.

Handshake for English and Creative Writing Majors

This summer, the Career Center is transitioning to new online career platform, Handshake. Those of you returning to campus should be relieved to know that Handshake is replacing I-Link, the jobs search database that the U of I had previously used to connect students to employers. Handshake is in every way an improvement over what came before: it’s structured around skills, not majors or departments, and it’s much easier to shape to your interests.

A few things that English and Creative Writing majors should know about Handshake:

  1. This resource will be helpful to you, no matter where you are in your education, so take some time this summer to log on and start checking it out.
  2. It’s a good idea to start building your profile. Employers use Handshake to seek out students, and they will be able to find you more easily if your information is online.
  3. If you’re looking for work experience while you’re on campus, Handshake lists local part-time jobs and internships, many of which do not appear on the Virtual Job Board or the Research Job Board. Click “Jobs and Internships” and set the filter to “part-time” with a location of Champaign, IL. There are also some unpaid internships listed there, but think hard about the conditions under which you are willing to work for free.
  4. If you’re NOT looking for a job or internship now, Handshake can help you with your career exploration. Every student can see every job on the site, depending on how far you are willing to scroll. Handshake will order job openings to reflect the information in your profile, so that the jobs that appear first will vary from student to student. This customized list of openings is a great resource for figuring out what kinds of jobs appeal to you and what you’ll need to do between now and graduation to demonstrate your “fit” for them. You can start learning about potential careers and companies by not only reading a lot of job ads, but also bringing to your reading the same critical and self-reflective eye that you bring to your academic work.

Continue reading