Why? Internships and part-time jobs help English department majors explore potential careers, practice their skills (writing, research, editing, communications, analysis) in the workplace, and start building professional networks.
How? We maintain a list (use the pulldown menu on the “Jobs and Internships” tab of openings on and around campus. In addition to the opportunities available to every UIUC student, every semester we offer several internships directly through the department with priority given to applications from English and Creative Writing majors. Opportunities are circulated to students at the beginning of the semester (watch your email!) with instructions on how to apply. They are also posted on our “Internship Openings” page. To apply for most internships, you’ll need a resume and a statement of interest (why are you interested in the position, what can you contribute, and what do you hope to gain from it?). But also read “The Big Picture” below.
When? You can apply for part-time jobs or internships at any point in the major–there’s no need to wait until your junior or senior year.
Academic Credit? Students selected for unpaid English department internships are required to enroll (upon receipt of the internship) in ENGL 199-INT (the Internship Seminar). This one-hour, one-credit course that meets for 50 minutes/week in the second eight weeks of the semester. Students who have found unpaid internships on their own can also enroll upon approval from the instructor (Kirstin Wilcox, firstname.lastname@example.org; 300-4305). Students in paid internships are also welcome to take the course, although they are not required to. The course gives interns the opportunity to compare experiences, inventory the skills they gain, connect their internship to broader career goals, and practice presenting themselves to future employers.
The Big Picture
“Internship” can mean a lot of different things. These work experiences vary as widely as the career paths of English and Creative Writing majors. The internships offered through the English department during the semester are NOT the only possibilities you should consider. Part-time jobs can also offer a path to professional experience, as can volunteer involvement, RSO leadership, research, and independent projects
In many industries, paid summer internships are how large companies test potential employees; English department majors can successfully compete with business, communications, and marketing majors for these opportunities.
In some of the arts and social services fields that many of our majors are drawn to, an internship is essentially a volunteer opportunity with a formal job description and responsibilities. Some internships are thinly disguised strategies for organizations to get free labor, others are meaningful learning opportunities. Some give students opportunities to learn skills and take on responsibilities that they are unlikely to experience in other contexts, some duplicate experience that students could get in a part-time job or service learning opportunity. Not all internships will help you achieve your specific goals. Don’t assume that an internship is the only way to acquire the skills and experience you’ll need to get a job after graduation. Internships should be part of a larger strategy for career exploration, self-knowledge, and skill development.
The Right Internship
The “right” internship has to be “right for you.” Your interests and career strategy will determine where you should look for an internship.
“I’m not sure what I want to do–I just want to learn more about what’s out there and get some work experience.” An internship with one of the English department’s internship partners as described above can be a good way to explore some options and gain some skills. Another good place to identify relevant internships is LAS in CU, the internship fair hosted by the U of I College of Liberal Arts and Sciences on October 19 in the Illini Union. Regularly check our list of internship openings and Facebook page, where other opportunities around campus get posted. Keep in mind, too, that paid employment, RSO leadership, and volunteer work are also ways to explore your strengths, build skills, and demonstrate your abilities to future employers.
“I want to make sure I’m in a position to get a well-paying job with a good company when I graduate.” Both the Business Career Fair and Illini Career and Internship Fair are good ways to start building relationships with large national and international companies that hire a lot of college grads. They often have summer internship programs that help them identify the students who will be a good fit as future employees.
“I want to learn more about my dream career and start making some connections.” Depending on your career interests, there are resources to connect you to a relevant internship.
- Federal government, nonprofits, think tanks, policy institutes, and the like. Illinois in Washington connects students to internships (both paid and unpaid) with organizations of all kinds in DC. The program also provides accommodation in DC and related learning opportunities. It’s not just for political science majors! A lot of DC agencies and organizations need students who can communicate effectively about a wide range of issues–they like English department majors.
- Performing arts, arts administration, educational outreach, cultural organizations. The Arts and Culture Fair in Chicago features cultural, educational, and performing arts organizations in Chicago and the Midwest, many of which offer summer internships.
- Public relations, advertising, marketing, communications, human resources, web development, project management. Employers with positions in these areas attend the Business Career Fair and Illini Career and Internship Fair. Use I-Link to find out what companies will be there, what positions they’re hiring for, and which ones you want to target. Yes, all majors can attend these fairs!
- Media, entertainment, video gaming, film, television, music industry, book and magazine publishing. Networking is key to getting entry-level opportunities in other parts of the country in these popular and competitive fields. Talk to Kirstin Wilcox about joining the Alumni Mentoring Network to connect with graduates of our department who can help you. While you should never ask alumni for jobs and internships, knowledgeable alumni can help you identify good resources for your search, connect with other professionals in the field, and market yourself effectively.
Kirstin Wilcox, Director of Internships, is here in the English Advising office to help you think through your options and prepare your resume and pitch for any of these opportunities. Email her at email@example.com or call 300-4305 to set up an appointment.