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Old School Undergraduate Internship Advice May Be New Again

By President Brad Sims, PhD

As President of Capitol Technology University, I started out my career many years ago completing an undergraduate degree in construction management that lead to several different employers in the industrial construction industry.  Looking back to the difficulty of finding an internship in the late 1980’s some skills are more relevant today in slow industry hiring markets compared to the booming industry markets from 1995 to 2008 and again from 2017 to early 2020.

Capitol Tech’s undergraduate degrees are in line with who industries across the United States are looking to employ.  This makes the search for an internship, co-op, or summer job easier and almost always paid as well.  That’s why we can promise if you graduate with a qualified bachelor’s degree from Capitol Technology University in one of our many undergraduate degrees, you’ll find a position within 90 days of graduation. If you don’t, Capitol Tech will provide up to 36 additional undergraduate credits — tuition free — while you continue your job search and our career services department will continue to work with you throughout the job search process.

Here are some suggestions to stand out in a crowd when searching for an internship, co-op, or summer job:

  • Use resources to build a great 1-page resume from the first semester of college and keep it up-to-date every semester. Universities offer help via the career center or you can find samples online. 
  • Post your resume on your university career center electronic resume database and keep it up-to-date every semester.  Companies will sometimes call a university to get access and contact students from this database source.
  • Post your resume on all your chosen industry and general job boards and keep it up-to-date.  Once your resume is posted on all the different free job boards, companies can find you and you can seek out employment opportunities via these job boards as well.  There are a lot of these out there some that just specialize in your chosen industry and some that are general and some that are just for specific minority groups.
  • Go to all of your chosen industry and related industry websites.  Many companies have employment information on their websites and some specifically address internships, co-ops, and entry level.  You can usually respond to opportunities or put your resume directly into a company database via the web.
  • Be willing to relocate anywhere in the US or the World.  You need the work experience and location should not be a factor.
  • Be willing to look at a variety of positions not just a standard titles you know for your chosen industry but all positions as well as every industry segment related to desired area you wish to really work in upon graduation.  The experience even if it is not what you want to do upon graduation will still provide you a great work experience and build your resume.
  • Remember potential employers want motivated employees.  If a company is safely conducting interviews or allowing visitors amid COVID, go with the 1980s old-school methods of taking your resume, in-hand, driving to actual company office or satellite location, and explaining that you need an internship. If not or you are not comfortable with in-person interactions during COVID, send emails and follow-up emails to companies, connect with potential employers on LinkedIn, and cold-call offices to setup Zoom meetings. Be willing to explain to smaller companies what exactly an internship experience to an undergraduate student is as some companies have never hired a student as an intern.
  • Use your connections to your advantage. Think about sending a resume and cover letter to someone you know who might have a good chance getting you in the company based either on your research or connections and send it through an overnight service such as Fedex so it really stands out.
  • Be flexible on what you expect to be compensated as an intern.  The overall market is soft today and if you can afford it, you may offer to work for free, if the work experience will be a great resume builder.
  • Cast a wide net. Contact hundreds of companies when the market is slow and start early.  Finding either an internship or entry-level position can be a full-time job especially in a slow economy.
  • Do your research. Learn as much as you can about the company you are applying for so that if you are interviewed, the company can see you have completed your homework and are interested in working for them.
  • Network as much as you can.  Participate as a student in your regional industry association meetings as a student member where you can network for internships and the future full-time position. 
  • Do a great job in your internship.  Be motivated and a self-starter.  Your internship company may hire you if they see the potential.  Your internship will also be a strong addition to your resume.  Employers hire students who have internships in their field over those who have worked for no related work experience.
  • If possible, complete multiple internships throughout your time as an undergraduate student building up your resume.  It will make you a stand out when applying for your full-time position.

Click here to read more Career Services and resume building information from Connie Harrington, Capitol Tech's Associate Director of Career Development & Employer Relations. 

Capitol Tech offers in-demand, industry-focused degrees. Our undergraduate degree programs provide a year-to-year placement rate over 80% and Capitol Tech’s alumni have one of the best return on investment (ROI) in the nation.  Georgetown University released a report using data from the expanded College Scorecard, this report ranks 4,500 colleges and universities by return on investment titled, “A First Try at ROI: Ranking 4,500 Colleges.”  Capitol Technology University was ranked 213 out of 4,500 with a 20 year NPV, ranked 141 out of 4,500 after a 30 year NPV, and over a 40 year lifetime of work, ranked 120 out of 4,500 college/universities.

For more information, check out Capitol Technology University’s Undergraduate on-campus and online degrees.