Why and how to get an internship

Elizabeth Hilfrank sitting at a desk in front of a computer
Elizabeth Hilfrank ’18 spending her summer interning for National Geographic Kids in Washington, D.C.

At Gettysburg College, you will learn valuable information about an academic field of interest. However, as graduation nears, you will need more than your college degree to excel in the professional world. Now more than ever, internships are crucial to setting yourself up for success once you start applying to jobs.

So, how do you land an internship during your college career? You’ll be ready to handle the internship application process by following these tips in addition to utilizing the tools provided by Gettysburg’s Center for Career Engagement.

What is an internship?

When you intern at a company, you work as an entry-level employee, typically for short periods of time, especially if you’re a student pursuing seasonal opportunities. The internship experience allows you the chance to bolster your professional skills and get a sense of the day-to-day tasks of a specific role. You will also make valuable connections in the field and might be offered a full-time position at the same company in the future.

Jared Berna giving a tour at the Gettysburg National Military Park
Jared Barna ’20 gives a tour at the Gettysburg National Cemetery as part of his Pohanka Internship.

How to find the right internship

How to get started

What words pop into your mind when you picture an ideal career? Take some time researching industries and specific positions that make you excited and align with your degree.

How to search for internships

Browse job search websites, using the keywords you identified to narrow down the job position. Log into Handshake with your Gettysburg credentials to browse job postings specifically tailored to college students and recent graduates. Other websites like LinkedIn, Indeed, or Internships.com provide postings as well. If you have a specific company or organization in mind, check out the careers tab on their websites to see if they are advertising internship positions. You can also make an appointment with the Center for Career Engagement via Handshake or email for one-on-one mentorship to guide you through the search process.

When should I begin looking for internships?

Search now and apply early. Internship position postings for each season—summer, fall, and spring—usually become available around four months before the start date, so get ahead of those application deadlines by identifying where you’d like to apply now.

Gettysburg Students interning at the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation
Gettysburg College students during their internship at the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation

How to apply to internships

How to write a resume as a college student

Resumes summarize who you are—your education, experience, skills, and more. Keep in mind that by the time you hit your second year of college, employers expect your resume to no longer include experience from high school. Create a list of your experiences, including jobs, volunteer work, leadership opportunities, and turn them into actionable tasks or outcomes that demonstrate your qualifications.

What’s a cover letter and how do I write one?

Cover letters are one-page letters to a hiring manager that express your interest in the position and support your candidacy with specific examples from your work experience. Select specific words from the job description and describe times when you showcased these abilities. Be sure to home in on what makes you the right candidate for this role, and the skills you hope to capitalize on or gain.

How to use your professional network

Never underestimate the power of a professional network. You can also use the Gettysburg Network of more than 30,000 alumni around the world to learn more about your intended industry and have a close connection with a company. Try using connectGettysburg or LinkedIn to get in touch alumni who are willing to help. They might be open to an informational interview or direct you to a position.

How to have a great interview

Be sure to do your research about the company and position beforehand so you can speak confidently about the role. Take some time to review your resume as well and be able to apply your skills and experience to the position. Feeling unsure? Try mock interviewing with the Center for Career Engagement for a sense of some potential interview questions.

Don’t lose hope

Remember that rejection is redirection. It’s OK to be disappointed, but keep in mind that many applicant pools are competitive. That doesn’t mean you’re not a perfectly fine candidate. You will find the right role, as you keep applying, connecting, and growing.

Phoebe Doscher sitting in her home office with a computer
Phoebe Doscher ’22 in her home office space

What’s the value of an internship?

Last summer, I held a full-time and a part-time internship position, both completely virtual during the COVID-19 pandemic. I was a content development and editorial services intern at Medscape, a website under the umbrella of WebMD that provides information for medical professionals and physicians. I was also an intern for the Communications and Marketing department here at Gettysburg College. While the application process can be tricky, once you assume a role as an intern, all that hard work pays off.

During the summer, I communicated with my managers and fellow employees in a professional manner, attended calls with company executives, and had a hand in ongoing projects for the division of the company.

Trust the process, do the work, and I can assure that you will come closer to landing an internship before you graduate from Gettysburg College.

By Phoebe Doscher ’22
Photos by Miranda Harple and Eric Lee ’15, and courtesy of Phoebe Doscher ’22
Posted: 07/20/21