Almost half of Western Michigan University students complete an internship before graduation. An internship will let you identify your strengths, test your career choices, and gain practical experience. It’s never too early to start thinking about an internship. Here are some steps to help you.
Plan and research three semesters before your intended internship
- Talk with career and academic advisors to learn about internship resources at WMU.
- Articulate what you want to gain from an internship. Which transferable and job specific skills should you develop?
- Think about where you want to do an internship – industry, type of employer, location, etc.
- Review the WMU internship catalog to see where you can intern with your major.
- Check whether your academic department has a list of internship opportunities in your field.
- Write your resume and cover letter using Optimal Resume.
- Participate in career fairs to learn about internship opportunities. Review the calendar of WMU career fairs.
- Network with students who completed internships, professors, and professionals in the field. Establish a professional LinkedIn account.
- Research specific organizations you are considering as internship sites.
Apply for internships and practice interviewing two semesters before you want to intern
- Read internship descriptions carefully and customize your cover letters to align your skills and interests with employer’s needs.
- Follow directions when applying for internships.
- Practice interviewing using Optimal Resume.
- Review the Career Development Guide to learn about interview preparation and professional interview attire.
- Build a list of three to five people who can serve as your professional references.
Secure an internship one semester before you intend to intern
- Follow up after each interview with a professional thank you note.
- Thank your contacts and references for their help and support.
Keep track of your accomplishments during the internship
- Immediately after your internship, update your resume with newly acquired skills and accomplishments.
- Keep in touch with the professionals who have mentored you during your internship.