Seeking out internships throughout your undergraduate experience can provide great hands-on experiences prior to graduate school and/or your career.
Benefits of an Internship
- Gain Experience and Develop Skills. Internships provide an opportunity to gain experience within a field of interest. From learning how to operate new instruments and navigating industrial workflows to working in diverse teams of professionals and exploring new interests, internships enable a breadth of experiences within a short period of time. Consider what skillsets you would like strengthen and/or explore within your internship’s timeframe. In doing so, you can identify opportunities that can promote self-growth and simultaneously boost your resume. This experience is an invaluable commodity that can set you apart from other graduate school and/or job applicants in the future.
- Explore Career Opportunities. Internships enable exploration. When pursuing internship opportunities, consider what careers you may be interested in pursuing post-graduation (whether that be after undergrad or after graduate school)! By pursuing internships that align with your long-term goals, you can sample fields without long-term commitment and determine what career best fits your interests.
- Get Paid (Hopefully). While there are both unpaid and paid internships within the chemical field, many provide stipends and/or wages to interns.
- Develop a Professional Network. Internships allow you to connect with professionals from a wide variety of backgrounds. By forging these professional connections early on in your chemical career, you will generate a network of individuals that can provide specialized career advice, mentoring, and support as you further your career.
Suggestions for Landing an Internship
Apply. Apply. Apply. The most important part to obtaining an internship is to apply! The more places you apply, the better your odds are for receiving an interview and they’re free to apply to so you don’t have anything to lose. Additionally, applying to more internships can help you strengthen your application materials. Most applications are comprised of cover letters, personal statements and/or CVs/resumes. By applying to more internships/opportunities, you can sculpt stronger and stronger applications as you apply to internships.
Use your network. Reach out to individuals within your network, such as peers, mentors, professors, and/or advisors. By expressing your interests in obtaining an internship and/or exploring a certain field, they may know of additional opportunities for you to explore. Additionally, utilize departmental- and university-wide resources, as available. Many chemistry departments advertise job and internships via email listservs, whereas many universities provide access to job search engines like Handshake.
Research prospective employers prior to your interview. By researching prospective employers prior to application submission and interviews, you will showcase your preparedness, proactivity, and most importantly interest. Applicants that are well-versed in a company or organization are more likely to perform well during the interview.