This summer, I had the life-changing experience to intern with the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ+ civil rights organization. As the Outreach and Engagement Intern, I gained critical experience in coordinating mass movements of social action, such as the #FamiliesBelongTogether marches that occurred around the country, and building strong networks of communication and solidarity through coalition building.
What is a little less known about my internship is that I landed it without filling out an application.
Applying to internships can seem like an agonizing tedious time of the “waiting game”, but with proactive steps, the process can be shortened or even avoided all together. With the support of the Internship Hub, I was able to solidify my summer internship in February — months before the application even opened.
1. I gained confidence, insight, and direction from one-on-one advising
The advisors at the Internship Hub are some of the most supportive and helpful staff that I have encountered at the University of Michigan. During my Fall 2017 semester, I was repeatedly in their office, eagerly soaking up advice in goal setting, internship search techniques, resume tips, LinkedIn presence, and networking. The advisors were with me every step of the way, and I felt increasingly more empowered the further I perfected my professional brand.
2. I took an internship class to develop my online presence and key strengths
ALA 225 is an internship-geared class that is offered for half of a semester. I recommend every student take an internship prep class as there are many offered in different departments, such as INTLSTD 170 for international internships. ALA 225 presented interactive and fun ways to uncover key strengths, taught me how to interview, and how to build my network.
Which brings me to my next and most important point.
3. They helped me utilized campus alumni networks to my advantage
UCAN and LinkedIn were the most crucial elements to landing my internship and developing my career path and network. While LinkedIn allows you to network with people around the world, UCAN is a campus-closed network for alumni and current students. Alumni that are a part of the UCAN network have joined the service with intention to be contacted by students, which results in a higher reply rate than a typical LinkedIn invite.
Though LinkedIn is not as likely to give you a direct connection, there are still ways to modify your search. When I am looking for internship opportunities, I search for the company or organization, and then I add a filter to only show alumni of the University of Michigan.
It is well known that the University of Michigan has the largest alumni network in the world. There is a great chance that anywhere you can picture yourself, a fellow Wolverine there. While applying to internships, I had a video chat scheduled every week, giving me a leg up in industry exposure, helpful advice, and a large network to review my resume. If you get lucky like I did, you may even end up contacting the right alumni that can solidify your dream internship.
The LSA Internship Hub is a great resource, and I owe a huge part of my success to their amazing resources and dedication to student prosperity. If you haven’t had an opportunity to stop in the office, I invite you to do so. You won’t regret it.
Na’kia is a student at the University of Michigan pursuing a BA in Organizational Studies and a BA in International Studies. She is heavily involved in the Michigan Daily as a Senior Editor of the section Michigan in Color. When she’s not editing her LinkedIn, creating fun to-do lists, or reading about Google, you can find her reading poetry, meeting new and interesting people, listening to comedy podcasts, and chasing her cat.