For most people, practice makes perfect, unless you’re Rafael Nadal. He was born flawless. But for the rest of us, it takes a lot of effort to make sure we’re doing something right or that this is what we want. Because of that, some wonderful person invented internships. They are the perfect way to gain experience, learn about your chosen field, and build connections in the professional world.
Every year, a large number of employers sign up to be a part of the IWU Internship Fair. They, too, realize the importance in hiring students and helping them obtain a better understanding of what they want in their future career.
“Sometimes when you’re studying a particular subject area, you don’t understand how what you’re studying can apply to different settings in the real world,” McLean County Museum of History’s Mary Anne Schierman said. “I really like talking with students and showing them how what they’re studying might apply to something they haven’t even thought of.”
As an English major, Schierman did not expect to be working as a volunteer and intern director for a museum, let alone a history museum. But to her surprise, a great deal of writing was involved in what her job required.
“I think it’s neat to show that, especially in the employment climate we have today, you really need to think outside the box,” she said. “You never know when a new experience will lead you somewhere else.”
Advocate BroMenn’s Manager of Volunteer Services, Sue Seibring illustrated the truth behind that statement.
“We have a lot of great opportunities that college students would benefit from,” she said. “There are about 65 volunteer areas that use college students two hours, one time a week. Oftentimes, we have people who say they want an internship, but after knowing they’re not getting school credit, they decide to volunteer instead. In the volunteer program, we have a music program, and sometimes there are different opportunities at our nursing station. They change all the time depending on the needs of the department.”
The idea of using one’s interest in music in a hospital may not seem like a logical step for most, but for Seibring, it’s a typical example of how companies take in a wide variety of talents and experiences.
Most employers know what attracts them to particular candidates for an internship. The general consensus is students who are confident, prepared, and well-informed tend to leave the best impressions.
COUNTRY Financial College Relations and Employment Coordinator, Carly Miller said, “We look for a student who is driven, involved on campus, and eager to learn. We also look for students who possess critical thinking and communication skills. When a student approaches me at a career fair with a clear intention, knowledge about the company, and key questions about the company or position, I am impressed. It’s this easy preparation and practice that can take someone from being a good candidate to a great candidate.”
“I think when you make good eye contact, that tells a prospective employer a lot,” Schierman said. “Good verbal communication skills on an initial contact obviously really does stick in my mind. I try to keep my mind open but I recommend practicing good eye contact and communication skills.”
For students expecting to attend the internship fair, our employers offered suggestions to get the most out of the event.
“I think students should try to go to as many booths as they can because there might be something at an organization that will fit into their needs,” Seibring said. “A lot people think hospitals only take pre-med and nursing majors, but we need other majors, too.”
“Last year, business and accounting majors were all there, but not liberal arts,” Schierman said. “There are so many ways you can use your interest and skills to get some good job experience. You can’t talk to enough people, interface with enough people, make enough contacts, or put yourself in enough places.”
The Fall Internship Fair will be held on Wednesday, October 12th from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Memorial Center. For a full list of attending employers, go to the Hart Career Center website.