Doug Donato
Beyond NY Doug Donato On campus Part of NYC

Internships: Don’t Stress. Impress!

The fall semester is always a time when there is one thing on many students’ minds… internships! Internships are great because as students, we can get a lot out of them and they offer us great experience and credentials for our resumes and can even lead to jobs. Companies also love internships, because let’s face it, who doesn’t like free labor? Wagner is a school that makes it easy to find internships because of its location and resources, and many programs here require that students get experience in the field. Many places are happy to have Wagner students as we have a great reputation.

I am part of this internship quest, and it is an exciting, stressful, and ultimately rewarding experience to search for internships and look for places to grow and learn as professionals. This summer I worked in the PR department of a non-profit company and learned a lot about working in the entertainment field. Internships can be important because they help us to learn what we like, what we don’t like, and what we would do different when we land an actual job.

Wagner has many resources available to students — we have our Career Center, professors with many connections in the field, and great alumni who have graduated and gotten great jobs out there and would be happy to bring current Wagner students under their wing.

Getting a resume made up and double checked by a teacher or by someone in the Career Center is a first step to landing a great internship. Also building great relationships with teachers who have worked in your field of interest can lead to some great breakthroughs! Next, many sites want applications done through special sites on the web, many of these are self-explanatory and can be found doing a simple web search. Cover letters can be intimidating (to me anyway), and I think the main idea is to write a letter that truly sells your skills and shows that you have an invested interest in the company and want to learn as much as you can from it.

Once you get an interview scheduled, it's just a matter of going and showing what you are made of, which can be intimidating, but is also one of the most rewarding parts of the search. Many companies seem to be happy to take on people who are ambitious, interested in the company, and want to learn.

One alumni who graduated with a degree in Arts Administration is Pete Westwood, who has interned and is now working in many different fields in the entertainment industry. He has worked in music, film, and television in many different areas and attributes much of his success to being a successful intern. "Internships are the stepping stone to your career," he says. "If you want to work in the entertainment industry, keep your focus in the industry. If you want to work in the medical field, don't make movies!"

I had the pleasure to speak with Geoffrey Hempill, the Senior Associate Dean and Director for the Center for Academic and Career Engagement, and got some more great tips on an effective internship search. He told me that the best way to secure your dream internship is to use personal networks. Whether it is another member of a club you are in or a friend of your mom's, keep your ears open to connections and possibilities and look for contacts. WICS is a great resource, but looking for these personal ties is often times the best solution. Geoffrey told me that while it may be worth a few minutes to upload your resume on sites like Monster and Career Builder, more is needed. Geoffrey also told me that while Craigslist has its uses, is is not at all a reliable resource for finding a job or internship.

Another interesting possibility Geoffrey introduced me to was creating your own internship. It has a 100% success rate, but takes a lot of work. The first step is to get your resume edited and ready and then delve into your fields of interest. If you are interested in fashion marketing, then target specific businesses and find employers who may be willing to take on a student intern. Looking for professional periodicals, such as AdWeek or BrandWeek in Marketing, is a good way to find who and where good contacts are.

Above all, it's important to stick to it! Stay focused on a specific area of interest, and be realistic about your qualifications. If you are a sophomore, you may not get a job at Madison Square Garden on the first shot. Start small and work at some smaller venues and then senior year, you may be ready for a bigger company. Don't give up!

Internship resources:

Good luck on your search and see you on the commute.