Why You Should Consider an Internship This Summer

Dear English and Writing and Applied Arts majors,

Summer is approaching fast and so is the promise of longer days, a break from academics, and for many, a chance to cash in more hours at work. With all of this in mind, this is a reminder to not rule internships out this season. Though it can take some extra negotiation – Will I work an unpaid or paid internship? Will I work my summer job and add on extra work? – in my experience, internships have been a worthwhile bridge between the academic and professional world. Here’s why:

1. It allows you to get a taste for the field.

Wherever you are interning, whether for a publication or an advertising agency, in government or in education, your investment in the company or organization has an end date. What I mean by this is that your role as an intern allows you to get a feel for the type of work you are curious about without fully committing. It’s like trying on a pair of boots. Last summer, I interned with a nonprofit in tech development. I found out I loved the nonprofit feel, but I absolutely did not love the tech world. When my internship ended, I happily closed that chapter. No harm done. Now, I have a better understanding of what I enjoy and what I don’t.

2. You’ll gain opportunities for networking.

In most cases, you’ll be part of a team. Whether small or big, these are the people you will be working with and who often have quite a bit of experience. They can be great sources for questions you might have and not only about work. I’ve had opportunities in internships to ask my manager or coworkers about their career trajectory. It can feel a little intimidating to ask, but I’ve found that usually people are generous and willing to share advice. If your internship goes well, these are people you may want to tap into as a resource in the future. They might know about other positions or recommend you to people they have connections with. Either way, your professional work circle just expanded.

3. You’ll have a chance to build up your portfolio.

For many of us, having “clips” or “work samples” is important. As writers, creators, editors, and so on, showing the work we are capable of will play an important role in future employment. Depending on the nature of the internship, if creation is a central component, you should walk away with solid professional content. A portfolio of your published writing, social media copy, web copy, graphics, design, or video and audio production is always a helpful asset when you’re breaking into a creative field.

4. You’ll take skills from the classroom to the workforce and vice versa.

This is one of the best ways to exercise all those transferable skills you are learning in your degree. Internships are a great way to flex your pen (or keyboard) and put into use all the critical thinking, reading, and synthesizing our courses demand of us. In previous internships, I’ve faced new project management tools and software. It was a learning opportunity, and I left feeling confident I could add this skill to my resume. Work settings are great breeding sites for hard and soft skills. An added bonus, and something I did not expect, was how these practices fed back into my classes. I felt more confident and capable. It turns out that when you stretch new muscles, the entire body benefits.

5. It might lead to a job after graduation.

I’ve known friends who have received direct job offers post-internship. This isn’t a guarantee, but leaving a professional work setting with a good impression is never a bad thing. If a full-time position you’d like to apply for is available in the future, sometimes a former manager or hiring director might remember you. In any case, you’ll at the very least gain a reference from a positive internship experience, and this is nothing short of valuable.

UWGB is a good place to start.

Let’s say this is not the year for an off-campus internship for one reason or another. That’s totally okay, because UWGB offers some great internship opportunities and hands-on experience. Check out: Sheepshead Review and English 224: Practicum in Literary Publishing/Northern Lights for editorial experience and possible credit, UWGB Creatives for digital media experience and credit, and the Teaching Press for publishing practice and credit.

Sites that can help you find internships:

  • If you’re a BFA in Writing and Applied Arts major, Professor Rebecca Meacham, the chair and faculty advisor of the program, can help you figure out your internship options within UWGB—as well as a few placements in the community.
  • Check out Handshake, which is full of internship and summer employment opportunities from local employers seeking UWGB students.
  • Indeed.com has local help-wanted ads, including for summer internships.
  • Idealist.org has internship ads from nonprofit organizations across the country.
  • If you don’t mind creating a profile, Linkedin.com is another good site for hunting down internships and post-graduation positions.
  • Talk with your professors, too. They may know of some places that offer great internships.