Design Your Own Internship

It’s that time of the year when many of you are looking for a summer internship. You might be using a variety of online resources or attending career fairs to find that perfect opportunity. But what if you aren’t seeing that opportunity out there? You might consider trying to design your own internship. Creating your own internship does take some work, but it’s a very proactive strategy for getting the experience you want. Your self-designed internship could be a very rewarding experience that you can tailor to your specific interests and goals.

First, you need to know what type of job function you want experience in. Let’s say you are majoring in General Business and you are willing to work in any functional area (finance, marketing, management, etc.). For the internship at hand, you will need to narrow your focus to one such area. If you’re not sure what field you want to go into, do some research using online resources such as those found on our Career Resources website.

Next, you need to figure out where you can do the work. Identify potential work sites in the geographic location you want to be in by conducting general web searches, browsing Chamber of Commerce websites, or researching with the help of databases such as Lexis/Nexis (available through the University Library). Once you’ve found an employer you’d like to work for, do your homework. Learn as much about the organization as you possibly can. You might even find out that they already offer internship opportunities.

Finally, prepare a proposal for the work you want to do for the organization. Your proposal should be a specific project of interest and should meet the employer’s needs. “Specific” is the key word – don’t make the employer do the work in creating this opportunity. When it comes time to contact the organization, make sure you are contacting the person who has the ability to hire you. While you can submit your proposal via email or letter, you may wish to do it in person. At the very least, you should follow up by phone or in person to talk in more detail about your proposal. And be sure to give them a copy of your resume (reviewed by a Career Counselor, of course).

Designing your own internship takes time, planning, research, and assertiveness. If you can accomplish it, however, you could wind up with an amazing opportunity! Plus, you’ll likely learn a thing or two in the process.


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