How Internships Can Open Doors in Your Career
Note: This post was originally published on In Homeland Security.
By Terri L. Wilkin, Program Director, Legal Studies, American Military University,
Dr. Nicole Drumhiller, Program Director, Intelligence Studies, American Military University, and
Christine Muncy, Associate Vice President, Career Services
Internships are an important part of any program of study. However, many students fail to tap into the power of an internship.
- They offer real-life experiences, taking you one step closer to your career goal.
- They ensure that your chosen discipline is what you can envision yourself doing full time in the future or provide you with a different career track that you may not have initially considered.
- They offer an excellent opportunity to make a transition from one career path to another.
- They act as a portfolio enhancer and directly answer the question: “I see you can study, but what can you actually do?”
- They increase the chance of being hired for a full-time job after graduation.
Finding an Internship: Approach It Like a Job Search
Begin by researching organizations in which you are already interested. Check out their websites to see if they offer internship opportunities. If they do not post internships, propose one to them! Your proposal should include some of the many ways that the organization would benefit from sponsoring an intern, such as:
- Gaining a motivated and willing intern who is taking courses relevant to the industry
- Increasing personnel support with new and upcoming projects or events
- Receiving a fresh perspective, backed by the most current industry-related curriculum
- Fulfilling community service by contributing real-life expertise and experience within a career field, while providing the skills and learning needed for a successful internship
- Building a better tomorrow by investing in student development today
Career Fairs, Online Job Boards and Organizational Programs Are Useful for Finding Internships
Career fairs are also excellent venues to job hunt and seek internships. While an organization might not be hiring for a specific job, the company might offer internship opportunities that will provide you with greater insight into the positions they have and the organization’s culture.
A listing of upcoming virtual career fairs hosted by our Career Services department can be found in your ecampus under “Career Services.” Check out the list and mark your calendar for a great opportunity to ask about internships.
Explore online job boards, such as the APUS-sponsored board ePortfolio system, Portfolium. This website promotes a wide variety of internship opportunities through its job search feature.
Finally, there are many local and government programs that offer amazing opportunities. APUS students have participated in internships at:
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
- National Air and Space Administration (NASA)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- United Nations (UN)
- Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
- The Red Cross
Also, there are other organizations across the United States that offer internships. Career Services has some examples listed under Gaining Experience within your Program Career Guide. Be sure to consider them for a great starting place.
Make the Most of Your Internship
An internship is a powerful opportunity for learning and hands-on experience. It is also a relevant tool for your future job search. Follow these tips to make the most of your internship:
- Ask lots of questions and learn as much as you can about the organization and the industry.
- Be flexible and open to challenges the organization might present.
- If your final evaluation is positive, ask your supervisor for a letter of recommendation or a LinkedIn recommendation.
- If you’re applying for a specific job during or shortly after your internship, consider asking your supervisor to tailor the recommendation to that type of job. This will ultimately help construct a much stronger letter of recommendation for you.
- Before your internship ends, connect with your peers and those who helped you throughout the experience on LinkedIn and keep in touch. These individuals are your direct link to the industry and may just be the ones who help you get your next job, or maybe even the job after that.
If you’re an associate, bachelor’s, master’s or graduate student in the School of Security and Global Studies (SSGS) at American Public University System, many programs now have an internship elective where you can receive academic credit while building your network.
Throughout your search for an internship, you have support at the university. Career Services has an abundance of online resources within your ecampus.
Our staff can also provide you with job search strategies and guidance on resumes, cover letters, the application process and interviews. You have the team on your side; contact them by calling 877-755-2787 or email Career Services.
About the Authors:
Terri L. Wilkin graduated from the University of Maryland’s Francis King Carey School of Law in May 2007. She is admitted to practice law in the State of Maryland and the District of Columbia and has been admitted in the Federal United States District Court for the District of Maryland.
Prior to law school, Terri obtained a Master of Science dual degree from the Johns Hopkins University in Leadership and Finance/Accounting. Her 26-year career with the Maryland State Police includes assignments in patrol, criminal and drug investigations, white-collar crime, intelligence work, training, the Deputy Director of the Planning and Research Division, and as the Department Prosecutor. She is also a Florida Licensed Private Investigator and a managing partner in an investigative consulting firm. Terri is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Homeland Security with a concentration in Counter-Terrorism at AMU.
Dr. Nicole Drumhiller graduated with a Ph.D. in Political Science from Washington State University. She is currently the Program Director of the Intelligence Studies Program at American Military University. Nicole teaches courses in analysis, profiling, deception and propaganda. Her research interests include cognition, group and leadership psychology, and extremist studies.
Christine Muncy is the Associate Vice President of Career Services and graduated from Wright State University with her Master’s in Education, Student Affairs in Higher Education. Throughout her career, she has focused on developing new programs and innovative services, which benefit student development, typically focusing on the adult learner. She holds two certifications in the area of career development, presents at conferences on topics relating to launching and evaluating new initiatives, team and leadership development, and serving large populations with little resources. Christine also designs and facilitates major corporate team builders.