Whip out your fancy pants, ambitious students of Southwestern University – it is the Internship Connections Fair. It’s the one time of the year in which recruiters come here to our campus, hoping for students like you to find them. (Nope, not the other way around.) “Internships are always a risk, because they’re challenging you to move beyond what’s comfortable and familiar, which is being here,” said Maria Kruger, Internship Coordinator at Career Services. “‘I can go to class, I can go to the library, and I can be in my student organization.’ It’s stepping into a world that you generally haven’t been in yet. [The recruiters] love the energy that college students bring to their environment.”
“We started the The Internship Connections Fair 10 years ago. It’s scheduled this year for Tuesday, the twenty-third of February,” said Kruger. “It’s hard when you’re in the backyard of Austin,” Kruger said. “While we do work with other UT career college services, and many are open to SU students, you have to drive all the way down there. Now you’re walking with hundreds of students and trying to stand out. At Southwestern, we have twenty or twenty-five recruiters, and you’re one of a hundred, versus hundreds. You get face time with these people.” The benefits of such a small ratio are nearly endless. “You might get to talk to them for five minutes,” said Kruger. “That’s almost unheard of. That’s your chance to really market yourself, to ask questions, and to learn. I always encourage students, no matter what year you are, to go for it.”
“It starts at 11:00 and goes until 1:00. You don’t go for the whole two hours,” Kruger reassured. “You only go for the amount of time you need to be there to talk, gather information, and hand out your resume to those organizations that you want to talk to. It’s a little intimidating – I know that. The employers that come to Southwestern have had students as interns in the past, or are familiar with Southwestern and the quality and caliber of student that we have.” However, that intimacy has a flip-side that students need to be aware of. “If we don’t have a good turn out, the recruiter might feel that it’s not worthwhile for them to come back here. It hurts us, and it hurts you all, because then that’s one less organization that won’t come here because students aren’t attending and participating in the fair.”
Kruger’s recommendations for the fair are straightforward. “You do have to dress up. Do you have to wear a suit? No. But if you’re trying to go after an internship with one of the companies that’s going to be here, a suit will make you look more professional, you’re going to be taken seriously, and you’re going to look like you’re interested and really truly willing to go into a professional work environment.” Don’t show up in jeans and flip-flops – check. More advice? “The more you know about yourself and the more you know what you’re looking to do, the better. You don’t need to have your whole life planned out, but you at least need to know ‘Okay, here’s what I enjoy doing, here’s what I’m good at, here are the type of things I’ve done before, and I’m looking for opportunities that incorporate these things. Do your homework ahead of time at who is coming. Target it out.”
“There’s all kind of opportunities just waiting,” Kruger emphasized. “It’s the people that are willing to go after them and take that risk that get them. It’s not as scary as it sounds. Once you get started and once you learn that’s part of life. It’s just getting out of what’s familiar and comfortable – change is inevitable. Do it now when you’re still supported.”
Need that support when it comes to resumes and cover letters? Need help with some general soul-searching? Drop by Career Services to see Kruger, and keep your eyes peeled for all the events that Career Services hosts during the month of February.
Web Ed. Note: The Internship Connections Fair is on February 23.