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Students receive advice on acquiring internships at Internship Showcase

On Thursday, the Career and Professional Development Center hosted the Internship Showcase event. Student presenters, with internship experiences at companies like Boeing, IBM, and AT&T, were able to speak with students currently searching for summer opportunities. Other organizations represented included government agencies, nonprofits, and hospitals.

Beginning at 4 p.m., students were free to walk around the tables and interact with the presenters, who had prepared exhibitions and displays of their experiences working with the companies. Some of the common threads expressed throughout the presentations included the application process, the nature of the work, lodging and transportation, and words of advice.

The event was open to all majors, with various presenters representing a diverse educational background ranging from the humanities to engineering.

The presenters came across their internship opportunities in a variety of methods. Some used school networks such as TartanTrak, the Business Opportunities Conference (BOC), the Technical Opportunities Conferences (TOC), or even the Alumni Directory. They were quick to mention that knowing people who work at the companies and having connections is very helpful not only for getting the desired position, but also for access to information along the way. Most of the presenters had used an online application process for the company they interned at.

Others, like senior information systems major Laura Lodewyk, said that professors are a good resource for finding internships. Lodewyk interned with the Palau Financial Intelligence Unit through a program called Technical Opportunities in the Global Community. She found out about the internship through one of her professors.

“Professors within Carnegie Mellon often have connections to companies or opportunities in the real world. If you have a professor who you enjoyed taking a class from, or whose research you are interested in, talking to them about career opportunities can be very beneficial,” Lodewyk said. Lodewyk spent her summer helping to create a database for Palau, a small island nation in the Pacific Ocean and was involved in an effort to digitize the country’s financial records.

A major lesson to be learned for many of the attendees at the conference was that finding an internship is not easy. Most of the time, there is no straightforward way of getting an internship, and often, failures are more common than successes. Only students who are very driven and resolute in their search are rewarded.

Ashwini Ganpule, a sophomore double major in mechanical engineering and engineering and public policy, worked at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Washington D.C. as a Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations Intern. She said that in order to get an internship as a college student, one must be “really persistent about it.” Furthermore, she stated “I applied to twenty different places, at least, and maybe five or six that I even got interviews with.” Ashwini put her skills towards advising and writing letters on policy decisions at the EPA as a part of her internship.

The logistics of internships was another matter addressed by many student-presenters. Out of those that did not work at home, several lived with other interns in subsidized housing. Companies are usually willing to provide interns with lodging and a means to commute. Other times, students are able to stay in vacant dorms in local universities.

Overall, the presenters at the internship showcase enjoyed their internship experiences. Many felt as though they played important roles in the projects they worked on, with some presenters designing and implementing their projects within one summer. As for the work environment, the students reported that coworkers and managers are generally friendly and helpful.

Internships are a great developmental process for many students. They help interns increase their skills and experience, and inform them on the career field they are hoping to join. Stephanie Chung, a junior human-computer interaction and business administration double major, represented Bosch, a German based multinational electronics company. Chung worked in the company’s business development and project management and language services sectors. She said that her experience helped her solidify her career aspirations, stating, “Before this internship, I wasn’t sure what career path I wanted. Through this internship, I found out … what about project management I liked.” She added, “Now I know which classes to take, and I’ll appreciate those classes as well because I’ll be learning valuable skills from them.”

Students around campus have many such stories to tell about how internships proved to be an invaluable experience.