By Jesse Berlin
Senior Ava Delsemme started searching for internships to supplement her strategic communication major and political science minor her freshman year.
“The hardest part is putting yourself out there,” Delsemme said. “Just be persistent and be willing to try new things, even if it isn’t necessarily the glamorous organization you imagined yourself working at.”
Delsemme’s persistence paid off. Last year, she landed a summer internship at the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. She helped draft policy proposals and strategized with elected officials, constituents and community leaders to meet community needs.
In the end, Delsemme’s mentors asked her to return in the fall and continue her work as part of a fellowship after her internship ended.
A job offer after an internship isn’t guaranteed, but research indicates interns are more likely to receive offers of employment, as well as higher starting salaries, than students who don’t pursue an internship.
“Employers create internship programs to establish a pipeline,” said Julia Parcell, internship coordinator for the College of Arts and Sciences. “There’s no better test of the skills and the talents that a person can bring to the organization than to actually have them work for you.”
Laura Peiter, a career services assistant at the MU Career Center, said summer internships, and internships in general, are much more than a block of text on a résumé.
Internships make students more marketable to employers and help students know whether they’re making the right decisions about their futures, Peiter said.
“You don’t know really what an industry is like until you get out there,” Peiter said.
For one-on-one assistance with finding and then landing a summer internship, students can go to the MU Career Center or other career services offices on campus.
Parcell also encourages students to check out career fairs and meet with recruiters face-to-face to learn what the possibilities are.
“Students might have blinders on [and think,] ‘I have this major. It means this particular career path is designed for me, and it’s the only thing I can consider,’” Parcell said. She added that career fairs can help students understand they are developing skills that apply to many different industries.
With the future uncertain for many graduates, Peiter recommends using a summer internship as a steppingstone towards other ventures, even if they don’t receive an immediate job offer.
“These are the people who are going to be your references. These are people who can recommend you to other things,” Peiter said. “Behave as if you want them to really miss you when you’re gone.”