- Confirms your career interest
- Gives you needed experience
- Prepares you for a future career
- Opens doors for a full-time offer
Steps to Securing an Internship
Most of these steps relate directly to the process of locating and securing a non-credit internship. However, whether you are pursuing an internship for credit through your academic program and designated faculty member or whether you are searching for a non-credit internship that is for personal and professional growth, the following steps are worth considering as you seek to secure a career-related internship.
The steps in looking for an internship are not much different than that of looking for a job. First, you need to do a self-assessment of your interests and career goals. The internships you look into should meet both short-term and long-term goals. Also consider how far you are able to travel to your internship and whether you need a paid position. These can be important factors to consider as you focus on your options.
Research and Network
After thinking through what you are looking for, search for companies that offer internship opportunities. Utilize CareerCentral and Vault to identify internship opportunities as well as research and review company profiles. Also, don't forget about BJU alumni with whom you can network through CareerCentral (under Job Postings select BJU Alumni within the Industry options; alumni who act as contact persons for their employers may identify themselves in CareerCentral accordingly). You should start looking for an internship or for summer opportunities at least six months prior the time you want to begin, considering deadlines. Gather as much information as you can regarding opportunities of interest. Contact your academic program chair for credit-related internship opportunities.
Remember that there are internships that are not posted, so if you are interested in a particular location and company, you should contact them to get more information. You should call their human resources department to ask if they offer internships. Make it known what your interest is in the company and share your resume to express formal interest. If they do offer internships, ask if they would be willing to set up an informational meeting with you—this can be done on the phone, through email, or in person. Through this meeting you would want to get the specifics of their requirements, the application deadline, and the specifics of their hiring process for future reference.
Once you know all your options and you have narrowed down the opportunities to those that interest you, you need to begin the application process. Make sure you know what each company requires and what qualifications they seek for the position. You will want to highlight these qualifications in your cover letter and resume. Some companies will also ask for a writing sample, a transcript, or a formal job application. Note what each company requires in their application process and stay on top of each deadline.
After you have completed the application process, let a few days go by and then follow up to make sure the recruiter received all the required information. If you submitted your application a week or more before the deadline, follow up the day of the deadline to see if you need to provide anything else to help them make their decision. Do not feel like you are annoying the recruiter—your persistence will show how interested you are in the opportunity and how diligently you will work on the job. However, do remember that it can take a month or more to make these decisions in a company, so be patient.
The next step is interviewing. You can refer to the interviewing section of this guide for helpful tips and advice. Remember, your internship could become your full-time employment. You want to be well prepared and give a good impression. Even if you do not receive the internship, you may end up applying for a job with this company after graduation; they will likely remember your first impression. After you interview, always send a thank you note as a follow-up. This is a great way to help you recap your interest in the company.
Accept Offer; Withdraw Others
Make sure you consider all internship offers. Do not feel like you have to respond right away to an offer. You should not keep a recruiter waiting for more than a week for a response (you should ask them for a deadline). It is okay to be open and honest with them, letting them know where you stand if you are waiting for another company to get in touch with you. Notify the company you are waiting for that you do have an offer that you need to respond to by a specific date. This may motivate the other company you are waiting for to reach a decision. Finally, after accepting an offer, make sure you notify all the companies where you interviewed. Thank them for the opportunity to interview.
Other Career-related Opportunities
Career-related Summer Jobs
These are part-time or full-time jobs in the summer that are related to your career but not necessarily the position you would apply for after graduation. For instance, you could work in a business office or as a bank teller if you are majoring in business administration. If you are majoring in education, you could devote your summer to working at a camp or at a daycare. The goal is to get involved and start networking with places of employment within your degree and career—this summer position may not be your long-term goal, but it could help give you career-related experience to reach your long-term goal.
Summer Ministries and Short-Term Mission Trips
Even these opportunities can be related to your career. You can have a teaching or counseling ministry. You can even work in an office at a camp. You could be involved in mission work on the foreign field and practice language skills. Even if you do not see the connection to your major right away, begin to think of ways your summer ministry and mission work can be useful to an employer and future place of service.
Involvement in community service and local church ministries on a volunteer basis can provide opportunity to practice what you are learning in the classroom. You can gain practical experience in organizing and promoting activities and events, teaching young people, and participating in musical programs and Sunday services to further your professional development. Use these opportunities to improve your talents as well as your interpersonal communication skills.
Optional Practical Training (OPT) for F-1 International Students
Involvement in an OPT experience may either be pre-completion (that is, after studying in F-1 status for at least one year but before one's degree is completed) or post-completion (following the completion of a bachelor's, master's, or doctorate degree program). OPT must be directly related to the student's degree level and present major area of study. OPT is generally available for one calendar year with each degree level, and a 17-month extension is available to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics degree students (the list of approved STEM majors is available at www.ice.gov). A cap-gap extension is available to an approved change of status H-1B application beneficiary.
The following steps outline how to process an OPT request, which must be finalized between 90 days prior to and up to 60 days after the completion of your degree program:
- Identify a desired employment opportunity that is related to your major area of study.
- Receive permission to pursue the OPT experience from the Director of Educational Services (Administration Building), who will certify that the proposed employment is directly related to the student's field of study and commensurate with his or her educational level. Upon receiving permission, the application form I-538 can be completed and filed with the International Student Advisor (Admissions).
- The International Student Advisor (Admissions) will then arrange an appoinment to meet with the student, make the OPT recommendation in SEVIS , and assist in filing an application form I-765 with the appropriae USCIS Service Center.
- Within 90 days, a work authorization card will arrive, and the student will be obligated to report his current address, periods of unemployment, periods of employment, employer's name and address, and any changes throughout the period of OPT.