Summer Internships

Get an internship and get ahead

Internships can make all the difference when it comes to securing that first post-college job. Learn why and get some tips for finding a great one.

Podcast transcript


PETE: Welcome back to How Not to Move Back in With Your Parents. You’re on the IU MoneySmarts Radio Network. I’m Pete the Planner. Alex is here. Hello.

ALEX: Hello.

PETE: Good to see you.

ALEX: Thank you, I appreciate it. Good to see you as well.

PETE: I really mean that, it is good to see you. Hey, internships, you have become the master of getting them. Many students have mastered that. This week, we wanna talk about the importance of them financially. We wanna talk about should you take one that does not give you pay. We also wanna talk about best practices for getting said internship. You’ve had two very different experiences. You interned for me last summer, the Peter Planner headquarters. And you got that internship in March?

ALEX: Yes, when I actually found out I believe it was March. Started the process, I believe, still in the winter, so later on.

PETE: February, March. And then, at that time, had your other friends secured internships for the summer or were they all in that same boat?

ALEX: It was interesting because being a sophomore at the time, junior year is kind of the big year to get internships in college at least right now. But sophomore is becoming more prevalent. But the thing is, big recruiting at least on campuses is more geared towards the juniors. So it was more of most people are getting summer jobs still, but people are trying to scrap out internships at the time.

PETE: How do you delineate summer jobs from summer internships? I’m curious as to how your brains classifies the two.

ALEX: I really wanted an internship sophomore year, because it definitely puts you a step above if you can start getting that professional experience, start gaining some actual hard skills and develop your soft skills as well. The earlier the better because it’ll help you set up to get your first job, and get you out on the right foot. So it’s extremely important, at least, versus working in maybe the food industry, something like that, to actually start building some professional skills.

PETE: So do you think just calling it an internship can make it an internship? I’m not trying to bust your chops on this, I’m just curious. Again, where’s the line? Let’s say you’re a horticulturist, like you’re gonna go into that. And so you work at a nursery, which anyone else that works there is calling it a job. You’re doing the same job as them but are you calling it an internship? How does that work? I mean, you worked in my office in marketing, but other people that work in our office, it’s their job. And their job wasn’t that different from you. How do you classify that?

ALEX: Right, I definitely think internship has become a hot buzzword for younger people in college just getting out of college. It’s more of ah, I almost feel like it gives the feeling of temporary, at most, because it’s obviously a set amount of time. It’s just to gain some experiences when you’re young to set yourself up to get a job. But it also depends on the actual work. Some internships are 100% hit or miss. You might go to a job that calls itself an internship and then just be getting coffee or be doing paperwork and not actually get the business skills you thought you’re gonna get. So it’s very ambiguous.

PETE: How important to you when you searched for your first internship was pay versus not getting paid? Did you factor that into your decision making process or what?

ALEX: Yeah, I pretty much only looked for paid internships actually. Because my goal in the summer is to get money because I don’t have time to work during the school year. So I need to be able to pay for that. And just in the fact that it would have to had been an amazing incredible experience that made it worth not getting pay. So for me, it was more I needed the money.

PETE: This year, this time around, you found out that you got your internship at a major company in October.

ALEX: Right.

PETE: That starts in May. Are a lot of people doing that now or was it shocking to you that you got it that early?

ALEX: All my experience, of course, I need to say this, is based around the business world. So for people in medical who are gonna work in hospitals or things like that, it can be very different. So I can just speak to my experience.

PETE: Sure.

ALEX: But this year, since I was a junior and that’s a big year for internships, a lot of the recruiting, especially at IU, you start immediately when you get there fall semester. So after the first week of school in Welcome Week, we were having career fairs, getting resumes together ready to go. And that is just constant until you start getting those jobs.

PETE: What do you think is the thing you’ve learned most about finding internships? Because I know this last one, again, they were there recruiting and so you had the visibility. And they’re a really well known company, so you knew about them anyway but what are your tips on finding one? When I was in school, I always just went to a place that I wanted to work and just ask them if they had interns and then applied that way. But what’s your move?

ALEX: So the way I went into it having no prior experience was look as many different places as possible. Obviously, online is a huge place to look. If you don’t have a network where your parents can be talking to people, ask them to talk to their friends, coworkers, things like that. There’s hundreds of different sites that list different internships. So I went through all of those because all of them have different listings depending on the company. Obviously, going to your school career services, through your friends’ parents. I really kind of attacked it at all angles to find the one right for me. And I think it’s about not selling yourself short also to a point where even though it may be a first big job and you might not have the skills, you need to go after something that you think will be beneficial for both parties.

PETE: And if I may, and I may, if I think people should apply for a lot of internships because I want people at this point in time to have a lot of interviews. Because the interviews will serve to improve the next interview and the next interview. And ultimately, when you go out as a working adult to get your first job after college, you wanna be polished in the interview room. I mean, it can be intimidating to sit into your first interview because you start thinking of everything that’s at stake. To me, that’s one of the internship interviews about, is just trying to get out of your own head the whole time you’re going, don’t blow this. I hope I don’t blow this. How much more comfortable have you gotten an interview process simply just by interviewing?

ALEX: It makes a huge difference, too. I mean, the more interviews you can get, the more experience, the more comfortable that you are. And the more you don't wanna stutter, you’ll over think things, so. The more experience you can get, and even if different schools offer mock interviews, things like that. The more time you can get, getting these questions asked to you, being able to react to the unpredictable, it’ll help you exponentially.

PETE: I think being able to highlight experiences and case studies within your own life, your own previous jobs, the clubs that you’re a part of, the leadership positions that you have within those different organizations. Being able to tell those stories in interviews for internships make a huge difference. And, Alex, I would argue that knowing the internship you pulled off this past year going forward, this starts in May, it was your ability to communicate what you did at your last internship that really helped to pay it off and make a difference. You’ve gotta leverage every single event and opportunity and skill that you’ve had to get the next one. Your entire career is a giant snowball, that every experience gathers the next, and the next, and next. And I’ll tell you, in my working career, one thing always leads to the other. I leveraged radio to get a TV gig, TV gig to get a book deal, and these different things. And I think more than anything, students even if they never have an internship before, they’ve got to be able to tell a story, that last summer job and the skills and experiences that they picked up there.

ALEX: Yeah, and this is good because it can apply to all different industries no matter what you doing, whether it be business, medical sciences, all things like that. One of the most interesting parts that I found through finding a job in this process is you really have to get to know yourself.

PETE: Yeah.

ALEX: You have to know your skills, what you’ve done, what you’re good at, what you have to offer. And that was one of the most interesting and fascinating parts for me is because you have to talk about yourself. And then, as you do that, you kinda realize things like, maybe this is what I’m good at, or what I would like to do. And it can really help you think through and find the right job for you.

PETE: Yeah, as we go here, let me touch on some you just said, it’s realizing what you have to offer and that you do have something to offer. I think you will do best in your internship when you realized that you’re not there just to fetch coffee, be the gofer. You’re there because you have something to offer and I think it’s the students that understand that are the students that succeed, that have confidence in their skills, confidence in their offerings. And that’s when it starts to pay off. Here what we’re gonna go next week on How Not To Move Back In With Your Parents, go figure. We’re going to talk about what to do with some of that, what to do with summer pay, how best to leverage that. If you want more information, I encourage you guys always to go to Thank you for listening to How Not to Move Back in With Your Parents, here on the IU MoneysSmarts Radio Network.