Tips for Internships

Internships is somewhat of a craze nowadays. It seems like you need to have an internship to get even an entry-level job after graduation. While it’s not necessary to get one to apply to Haas, I believe it’s still important to think about even as an underclassmen.

Interning is one of the only ways you can receive direct exposure in a particular field. Putting it another way, it’s the only way you can determine whether a particular career is right for you. Classes give you the background behind it; internships give you the application of that knowledge. If you already have a career path in mind, internships can either solidify or question your intentions, which in my mind, are both important inquiries to have. Think about applying for them when you have that direction. Only when you have obtained job experience will you be able to determine whether you should pursue the field or change pursuits.

I’ve held many internships throughout my lifetime. I was a Fashion Marketing Intern at Shop.Share.Love! in Summer 2012. In Spring 2013, I was a Music Management Intern at Ineffable Music Group. I went to Shanghai, China and was an Intern at the Shanghai Academic Services Center in Summer 2013. That fall, I stayed local and interned in Internet Marketing for Go Overseas within Berkeley’s own start-up incubator at Skydeck. Finally, in Summer 2014, I worked (intern is what they like to call it colloquially since I’m the only college student, but I am indeed an employee) at Intera Growth Partners as a technical recruiter and office manager, where I will continue to be in Fall 2014.

As such, I have a lot of experience with how to find them. And what you should get out of them.

Start your search on Callisto.

As a Berkeley student, you now have access to one of the best internship and job databases in the country. Callisto will be your best friend for the next couple of years. Just log in using your CalNet ID, and start your search by going on the “Jobs, Internships & OCR Interviews” tab and click on “Callisto”. There, you will find more than 5000 jobs and interviews by various companies; some big names, some small. Of course, you won’t be qualified for half of the positions, and you won’t want to do another 25%. Narrow your search by location, and job function if you wish.

I received three internships from Callisto, so the companies whose positions you apply for will get back to you if you are an appealing candidate to them. Apply for as many positions that are interesting to you. Most positions will not be open past one or two months, so be sure you note the posting date. Be also wary of false companies: apply to the ones that look legit.

I suggest using Callisto as a starting point in your search. You can always apply to internships through company websites as well, but honestly the surest way to get a position is to…

Network. Attend job fairs.

There’s a reason why both exist. Job fairs are important because you market yourself and show why you would be an asset to their company through their representatives. Networking is even more important; because you have a friend to vouch for you on the other side of the table. Oftentimes those friends are the ones who gets you in the door.

Honestly I’ve never liked networking. You put up a facade and talk to people for business purposes and not to genuinely connect with them. I also think it’s a cheap way to get what you want. But it’s effective.

You can probably tell I haven’t done any positions where I use such networking. I rely almost solely on Callisto and online applications. I’ve been to only one job fair. Perhaps I’m a hypocrite for giving such advice because I don’t exactly follow it…but, these are factors you should keep in mind, and are important if you want an internship. Unless you’re like me and are willing to apply for 20+ positions on Callisto out of desperation interest.

Find an internship worthwhile.

I’ve had a slew of internships; five to be exact. As such, I’ve had some great ones, and some pretty terrible ones. I’m not afraid to talk about them publicly.

I was a freshman when I was at Shop.Share.Love! and Ineffable Music Group. Both unpaid positions, both disappointing. The reason for such disappointments was my lack of responsibility within both companies. I wanted to do something worthwhile, and neither company gave me the chance to do so.

I wanted to be at Shop.Share.Love! because it gave me a chance to discover what internships were like. I applied for Ineffable because I was interested in the music industry and wanted to learn more. Unfortunately for both companies, the only experience I obtained from the two was knowing what a bad internship felt like.

Be wary that it is difficult to find a worthwhile internship as a freshman in college. Although I know plenty of people who were able to do so, the chances of it actually happening are slim. Thus, if you do find an internship, know that it may potentially waste your time. Understand that every experience is what you make of it, and is dependent on the time and energy you spend while you’re there. For me, I tried to make it work, and I ended up craving for the next gig.

Find your culture fit. Don’t settle.

Another way an internship can be worthwhile and exciting is through the people you work with. When you interview for your new position, take note of the way your interviewer interacts with you and everyone around you. Take note of your work environment, and picture yourself working there. If any doubt in your mind creeps up for a second, do not settle for it, and keep looking.

Don’t use internships as a resume booster.

Pursue an internship because you genuinely want the experience, not because it’ll look good on paper. You won’t make the most of that experience if all you see it as a stepping stone to the next thing.

If it doesn’t turn out well, at least it taught you a lesson.

While I wouldn’t say that no experience was bad, each of mine taught me something valuable. I hope you wouldn’t have to experience the same disappointments for an opportunity that you have already obtained.

Don’t give up!

You will experience many rejections. That’s okay. Keep your head up and keep looking. For summer 2014, I applied to around thirty positions on Callisto. Ten of them offered me a phone interview, and five of those got me onsite. Only one (but possibly more) offered me a spot on their team. Don’t let it discourage you.

So what was a worthwhile experience for me?

I would classify my last three internships as great experiences. While all were not necessarily legit, I learned so much from interning in Shanghai, Go Overseas, and currently, Intera Growth Partners.

I was already planning on going to Shanghai in the summer of 2013. I wanted to do something other than staying at home and “vacationing” with my family; I wanted something more. I was out of luck with my job search, and somehow my mother was able to get me to intern at a friend’s company (networking!). I know, it was my mother; but how else was I going to get something in China?

I interned at the Shanghai Academic Services Center for three and a half weeks; not nearly enough time to be given something. My Chinese also isn’t particularly great, so I was greatly limited in my ability to help out around the office. However, it was because of how uncomfortable I was in the office that showed me how much I am still able to grow, and how I wasn’t as bad as I thought I was. Although I wasn’t given anything groundbreaking to do, it was my first peek at office life in an international setting.

In the fall, I interned at Go Overseas, unpaid. I learned about SEO, solidified my HTML, and it gave me the chance to write about going abroad and research different cities. Sure, it was nothing particularly fascinating, but I would say that Go Overseas got me thinking more about the technical side of marketing and to consider what other opportunities I was limiting myself to; namely, tech. I believe that it was here that allowed me to lead my own team and work with programmers, which allowed me to become a technical recruiter and talk with software developers, product managers, quality assurance engineers, and website designers on a daily basis at Intera. I am quite happy here!

Perhaps at this point you may think that all my positions were resume boosters.

Perhaps you may think that, like the hypocrite I am, I’m doing the very thing I want you to avoid; where one thing led to the next thing. In truth, it’s a mixture of both ambition and interest in which I seek out such internships. But I assure you I don’t do it for the boost.

Like many, early on I questioned what I wanted to do in college and in graduation. In my haste, I decided to intern to figure that out. However, I was unsatisfied, but settled, with these opportunities and was craving for more. I wanted to do something meaningful and interesting, so I kept moving on to the next thing until I found something. In my case, each of my internships showed me something new, and I wanted to pursue that what was new to me and take that chance. That’s why I changed positions so much.

 

If you’re pursuing internships this early, it must mean that you’re just as ambitious and are wondering what you want to do with your life too. This means that you will experience many disappointments, as I have. I hope my long-winded intertwined explanation of tips and my experience helps you stay on track and determine what you want to do later! Good luck!

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