Looking for a job or internship is not an easy process and takes time, energy and support. We are here to help you every step of the way.
What’s the difference between a summer job, internship, and a summer learning experience?
- Summer Jobs: Summer jobs are paid work positions that fill a service-based need, and typically do not require a Bachelor’s degree. Examples: summer camp counselor, retail sales associate, waiter/waitress, lifeguard, etc.
- Internships: Internships incorporate projects that require greater amounts of responsibility and offer opportunities to attain knowledge and skills relevant to that specific industry, in addition to clerical work. Interns are typically supervised by staff trained and skilled in the profession. These positions can be paid or unpaid, and full-time or part-time.
- Career Exploration Activities: In addition to internships and summer jobs, students can explore a career field and gain skills and experience through volunteerism, travel, job shadowing/ observation, informational interviews, academic courses, and study abroad. Many students use non-internship experiences to reveal their interests and build the skills necessary to land an internship, or entry-level job, or to round out a resume.
Importance of Internships
You’ve heard everyone talk about the significance of internships. Why so much hype?
Employers and graduate programs now expect competitive candidates to amass a minimum of two significant experiences (internships, research, collegiate athletics, volunteer work) by the point at which you apply for a post-graduate option. These experiences demonstrate your commitment and interest to a specific career field.
For liberal arts students especially, internships are also important because they allow you to:
- Gain insight on your career direction. Internships allow you to explore potential areas of interest and can alert you to career fields that you haven’t yet considered or are not represented in your academic coursework.
- Test out different work environments. Evaluate a variety of office cultures and settings to determine your best fit.
- Build your resume and develop industry-specific skills and experiences to better qualify you for more advanced positions down the road.
- Shape and grow your professional network.
- Practice the job search process.
The Job and Internship Search Process
The internship search mirrors the job search process — the two can look very similar. In the past, internship candidates were able to be present themselves without much polish or focus. Now that the internship landscape has become more competitive, that is no longer the case. Learning and practicing the steps to search for an internship will be essential for your job search senior year. Each student and each industry will have its idiosyncrasies, but a good search will typically follow this process:
It can be difficult to find something if you don’t know what you’re looking for! Start with an idea of some of the qualities that you’re looking for in a job or internship before beginning your search. Possible descriptors, like an industry or company name, a skill you hope to obtain, or geographic region you prefer can help determine your search terms and might dictate what resources you use to identify positions.
- Make an appointment to discuss your options with a career advisor.
Knowing about career fields will allow you to effectively target your application materials and prepare to be an effective interviewee in that industry. Employers only seek candidates who can articulate their understanding of an industry, organization, and position, and who can sell their skill sets directly to those features. If you are unable to do so, it may be time to circle back to the previous steps.
- Explore majors and careers using our online resources.
- Make an appointment to discuss how to use our various exploration tools.
Internship searches are time intensive and energy-consuming, especially if this is your first experience through this process. Block time in your schedule to write good resumes and cover letters, network, and search for and apply to positions prior to when applications are due. Partner with Career Services to develop a personalized action plan to get started and move forward.
- Make an appointment to discuss action planning
The most successful job and internship applications are targeted toward a particular industry, organization, and role. Learn to write targeted resumes, cover letters, networking correspondences, and thank you notes. It’s a competitive market, and other applicants are taking the time to do so!
- Check out our online workshops and guides to start composing your documents.
- Attend an in-person workshop.
- Make an appointment to have your application materials reviewed by a career advisor or a peer advisor. Our advisors can also help you understand what “targeting” means.
Utilize Colgate’s Alumni Network (iCAN) and your personal network (e.g. friends, family, faculty, past employers) to connect to individuals who can provide you first-hand perspective of a field or employer. The goal in building these relationships is to gain information to inform a search, not to be offered a position.
- Download the iCAN guide on our online workshops and guides page and attend an iCAN clinic.
- Get approved for and utilize iCAN to develop your network.
Unfortunately there is no single website that lists all available jobs and internships. The different pages and search functions will vary depending on your career field, geographic region of interest, and the type of work you look to do. Work with an advisor to familiarize yourself with different job search tools, and determine which is the most helpful for YOU. Check back often to find new positions of interest, and continue to send applications until you secure a position.
- Make an appointment to discuss which resources might be most beneficial.
- Look at our industry resource pages for some Colgate-specific and external online search resources.
Develop a prospect list of employers, including obvious and more obscure options.
For instance, if you're interested in media … explore newspapers, radio stations, television networks, publishing houses, marketing firms, PR firms, and/or advertising firms. But also check out communications or promotions offices in large companies/organizations, nonprofit organizations’ outreach, political campaigns, human resources departments, web design, public research interest groups, and brand management firms.
Think creatively about how employers might meet your needs, and expand your notion of what it means to work in your field of interest.
Once you've developed an initial target list,
- Go to company/organization websites to apply for positions.
- Reach out to Colgate alumni and your personal contacts at those organizations – this is where maintaining your network will pay off.
- Stay tuned in to employers visiting campus.
- Follow your companies of interest on social media.
- Continue to identify other similar companies who you might incorporate into your target list.
- Make an appointment to learn how to begin developing or supplement an existing target list.
- Keep using the searches in naviGATE to identify new opportunities.
You’ve found and applied for positions… now land the job! Practice your interviewing skills, brush up on thank you note etiquette, notify your references, and learn how to negotiate your terms of employers.
- View our online workshops and guides page for detailed information about interviewing and thank you notes.
- Make an appointment for a mock interview, to have 'thank you' notes reviewed, or to learn about salary and benefit negotiation.
- Be sure to thank those who helped you arrive at this opportunity!
Now that you have landed at an employer, get started on the right foot, and keep growing professionally. Set mutual expectations, determine how to obtain feedback, and ask questions of your supervisor. You will be expected to ask questions when needed – it is part of the learning process, and actually expedites your growth! Never assume you know information. Graciously express your interests and ways that you can add value to colleagues. Take advantage of opportunities to learn and contribute.
- Learn new skills
- Take ownership over your work
- Maintain your existing network and continue to grow it within your new organization
- Perform above and beyond
Enhance your experience by supplementing your job or internship with additional opportunities to expand your skills and gain relevant experience — conduct informational interviews, volunteer, job shadow, take a paid summer job, enroll in academic courses, or travel.
We partner with employers, maintain a database of proprietary job and internship postings, participate in annual recruiting consortia, and offer on-campus information sessions and interviews. Find out more about Colgate’s Recruiting Program.
Summer Funding: Grants to support summer career exploration, internships, and research.
Summer on the Cuyahoga: Paid internships, community introductions, alumni networking, and group housing for the summer in Cleveland.
Internship Credit Program: Academic credit for internships that require earning credit as a condition of hiring.
Summer Undergraduate Research: Collaborate with professors at Colgate to conduct research.
Upstate Institute Summer Field School: Research opportunities with local organizations.
Lampert Fellowship for Summer Research: Funding to research civic and global affairs.
Schedule an Appointment
Appointments and resume reviews with your career advisor can be scheduled in person, or by calling 315-228-7380.
Monday & Tuesday 8:30 a.m.–7:00 p.m.
Wednesday–Friday 8:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
The Career Service Toolkit offers resources to help you through your job, internship, or fellowship search, including guides and workshops on resume and cover letter writing, interviewing, networking, and support for special populations.