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5 Pointers When Searching for an Internship

New year, new semester, new you? At least that is what we all strive for. Starting off a new semester after what feels like the longest month of being home, working, simply relaxing or vacationing is always an exciting and scary thing. It’s so exciting to get reorganized and back in your normal everyday routine, balancing school work and social life. But with that post-holiday sluggishness, it is definitely hard for me to completely find the motivation I need to start off as motivated as I would like. However, this semester I got that motivating push by adding an internship to my plate! I am a junior political science student, interning in downtown Richmond with state Senator Louis Lucas and her legislative assistant. Now, believe me, this opportunity was honestly unexpected which is why I am going to give you five pointers about staying calm so close to the end of undergrad, yet still waiting on a great internship opportunity to arrive.

1. Apply. Apply. Apply!

It’s easy to get discouraged by seeing so many things you feel like you can or cannot do. There are so many people out there and you may not feel like you are good enough for a certain position, but you truly never know how things are going to fall into place. So without any hesitation, reach out for any opportunity no matter how crazy it may seem.

2. Plan accordingly

Some opportunities may be more convenient than others, some may seem better than others. With that being said, still think realistically about your current position. If something that is more time or cost efficient peaks your interest, do it. If you feel like taking on something huge, moving away for a semester or summer, do it! But don’t feel pressured to do something you aren’t ready for or cannot afford if room and board, transportation or location is an issue for you. Doing something is better than nothing, and that something will lead you somewhere bigger when the time is right. After all, the most important thing about internships is making connections and getting more experience under your belt – no matter where it lies on the spectrum.

3. Money honey

To me, being paid or not doesn’t matter in consideration to the experience I strive to get, but to other students it can be a deal breaker. If you are a student that works while in school, landing a paid internship might inspire you to quit your job for something that’ll not only pay you, but add to life experience too. All are reasonable things to want in an internship, depending on your position as a student.

4. The environment

Yes, I know that I said something is better than nothing, but take into consideration the work environment and people within it. Nobody wants to work or intern in an area that makes you miserable day-to-day, so think about that! Not every internship is pure magic, but you still want to enjoy it and like what you’re learning from it. After all, an internship is a stepping stone to your future career, so you want it to be something enjoyable.

5. Stay calm and positive

Some opportunities come to different people at different times. I had many friends that began interning as early as second semester freshman year! Totally insane, but I did what I could to not become discouraged! It’s never a wrong time to get the opportunity, whether it is during a semester or a summer. You have time, just use it wisely. 

Stay active, keep your options open and keep connecting with those you come across – you never know where they can lead you. 

photo by author

Aja is a Junior at VCU studying Political Science. She loves going to brunch, working out, healthy eating and is overly obessed with the Kardashians & her three dogs (Cooper, Bentley and Lulu). You can follow her on Instagram @ajaerinmo!
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