Five Things Freshmen and New English/CW Majors Need to Know about Internships

It’s the time of year when you’re getting bombarded with information about internship opportunities. Here are a few things to know:

  1. Internships can be useful, but they’re not a magic bullet. There are majors that position students to go into specific kinds of industries, and for those programs an internship with the right company is the key to success after graduation (think engineering, computer science, accounting, finance). English, Creative Writing, and Teaching of English don’t work like that. These majors equip you to excel in a wide range of internships, but an internship may not be the best path to a career that interests you.
  2. Internships are a great way to get experience, but they’re not the only way. If your goal is a job in management or consulting with a large corporation, then a paid summer internship with the kind of company you have in mind is a great first step. if your goal is a creative career in screen-writing or TV production, you might be better off spending a summer working a retail job that will give you time and energy to hone your skills on your own independent film project. The secondary education program here has a built-in internship in the form of student teaching — there’s really no need to seek out an additional internship unless you want to explore other career paths.
  3. Volunteer work, paid part-time employment, and RSO leadership are also important ways to explore your career interests and gain experience — and depending on your career path, some of these might be more helpful than an internship. If you are interested in publishing or editing, for example, most paid internships (and even unpaid internships with prestigious organizations) will expect you to have experience already — which you can best get by working on a student publication (high school experience has a limited shelf life once you’re out of high school), volunteering your editing skills for a nonprofit organization, or getting a part-time job with a communications component to it.
  4. Not all internships are the same. Some are paid, some are not. Some give you hands-on responsibility, some give you the opportunity to watch from the sidelines. Some organizations have a lot of experience working with interns, others craft the internship position as they go along. Some internships serve as a pipeline to a full-time job after graduation, some do not. Some employers expect applicants to relocate and provide housing, others leave you to your own devices. Some internship programs are thinly-disguised schemes to get low-cost labor, others are equivalent to well-paid part-time or short-term jobs.
  5. You have time, and you have choices. If you’re not sure what kind of internship you’d want, or how an internship might fit into your future goals, it’s okay. Look at the information you get about internships as it comes your way and see what piques your interest or sounds like something you might want to try. Read up on the employers offering summer internships at the  the campus career fairs this fall, and go talk to a couple just to expand your sense of what’s possible. Find ways to get involved around campus. If you need to work while you’re here, think about how your choice of part-time work can help you build some relevant skills. As you get more familiar with what’s available and what you like doing, you’ll find it easier to sift through the possibilities and seek out the things that can help you.

For more information, see our material on this website about internships:

 

When to Start Looking for Summer Internships (Updated for 2018)

It’s a question we get a lot here in English Advising:

when should one start looking for summer internships?  

The answer? Yes.

Which is to say, it’s never too soon to start

  •  thinking about what kind of a summer internship you want;
  • considering your options: can you manage on an unpaid internship or do you need a summer income? Do you need to live at home or can you relocate for the summer?
  •  researching the existing internship opportunities with companies you know you want to work with;
  • following various job boards and seeing what opportunities come up; and
  • preparing your resume(s).

English and Creative Writing, unlike some other majors, have no set time-frame for finding internships. How could they? Narrower, more career-focused majors channel students towards a handful of corporations that aggressively recruit students for specific entry-level positions. In these fields, internships have evolved as a cost-effective way for companies to identify potential long-term hires.

Some English and creative-writing majors choose to compete for those kinds of internship programs. A degree in English doesn’t limit you, however, to large-scale corporate recruiting opportunities. You have choices that are not always available to students in other majors, about how and where you want to apply your skills. Nonprofits? Small start-ups? Large foundations? An in-house communications department? A marketing/PR consultancy? A small or midsize business? Do you want to solve the world’s problems? Make a lot of money? Do a job when you’re always learning? Work one-on-one helping people?

The internships you seek will vary, depending on your goals, and so will their deadlines.

  • Post a weekly reminder to yourself to follow the advice below. You’re more likely to find the right internship if you’re looking consistently and steadily throughout the year.
  • Some employers (like State Farm at Research Park) are already posting summer 2019 internship openings, but many are not. The “Big Five” publishing houses, for example, generally don’t post their internships until winter (after the new year). Local and campus employers will be posting internship opportunities all the way through spring semester.
  • Review the employers who are coming to Gies Business Career Fair and the LAS and ACES Career Fair to identify a few with internships you could apply for (you’ll see a lot of things you can’t or don’t want to apply for — but don’t let that worry you — if you can find three to five employers you want to talk to at any one fair, that’s plenty).
  • If you are willing to relocate for the summer, make a list of your dream employers and start checking the “Careers” section of their websites. Internships at media, publishing, and entertainment companies that you’ve heard of tend to be highly competitive, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t make the attempt.
  • Check Bookjobs.com and Publisher’s Marketplace for internships in the publishing industry.
  • Check Idealist.org for summer internships at nonprofits.
  • Illinois in Washington connects U of Illinois students with internships in Washington and supplies housing and course credit. For students unable to relocate to DC for a semester or the summer (but interested in working for the federal government), there are virtual internships.
  • Is there an organization you’d like to work for that doesn’t have an internship program? Some places may be open to working with you to create an opportunity.
  • If any internship looks appealing to you, and you’re pretty sure you could do it if it were offered, go ahead and apply. The employer will decide if you’re a suitable applicant, and there’s no merit in ruling yourself out before the employer has a chance to.

Internships are not the only path to professional experience. They can be a great way to explore your options and start networking, but other summer activities may better equip you for your particular goals: a part-time or summer job that builds your skills, volunteer work with an organization that interests you, intensive involvement in your RSO, or time devoted to a project of your own.

 

English/CW Majors and Research Park

Sometimes (like today) our list of open internship opportunities has a LOT of links tagged “Research Park.” These job titles may seem bewildering, if you’re assuming that an English/CW major internship will involve editing or writing, probably for a cultural or educational organization (school, publisher, museum). “Strategic Resources”? Agriculture companies? Tech stuff?

You may also be confused about what Research Park is and how working there might fit into your life as a student. Read our FAQ to learn more.about Research Park Continue reading