Second semester at Swarthmore is in full swing, so students are working hard on papers, readings, and problem sets. We’re also working on something else: internship applications. Many students (including myself!) enjoy spending our summers away from the College working in a variety of places and putting what we learn in the classroom to use in the professional world. And while many might think a liberal arts college like Swarthmore might not have many ways to support students looking for internships and professional development opportunities, there have been several excellent resources I’ve taken advantage of during my internship search.
I just got a summer internship offer last week (Employment! Yay!), and some of my other friends have already gotten offers from Facebook, Google, Goldman Sachs, and Credit Suisse, so I want to share some of Swarthmore’s best resources for helping students find internships.
Obviously, our Career Services office is a logical starting point. The office holds programs where students can learn interview tips, meet alumni in certain fields, and get their resumes reviewed. This was a great first step for me to help create my first professional resume and to read up on interview advice.
But one of my favorite things about Career Services is their online alumni database. It has a huge amount of information and the best thing is that, when you write to alumni, they actually respond. My first year, I emailed about 20 alumni in the entertainment industry and I heard from more than half in less than two days. The best thing about going to a small school is that our alumni network is supportive and responsive. Swarthmore alumni work in some of the most prominent companies and organizations in the country and are usually more than happy to network with current students. Over the course of my first summer back home in Los Angeles, I met a handful of alumni who gave me advice and with whom I keep in touch with today!
Additionally, professors are a great resource for connecting with professionals outside of Swarthmore. One of my film professors introduced me to colleagues who worked in Los Angeles and they took me out to dinner when I worked there last summer. Professors here are so well-connected within their fields, and often so proud of their students’ achievements that they’re more than willing to make connections if you ask.
But really, I think I’ve saved the best for last. One of my biggest obstacles (and for a lot of other students) to pursuing a summer internship is the financial aspect. Luckily, the College has several ways to turn an unpaid internship into a paid internship—from department grants to connecting us with other funding sources. Last summer, I did an unpaid internship in Los Angeles that was funded by the College’s Lang Center for Social and Civic Responsibility. After filling out a brief application, the Lang Center helped finance my summer so I was able to engage in meaningful professional development without having to worry about taking out loans or working an extra part-time job.
These are only a few ways in which Swatties can get help finding and securing internships. Overall, I’ve had an extremely positive experience in terms of the College supporting me throughout the application and interview process. If you’re visiting campus this spring, ask your tour guide or other students what they might be doing this summer and how the College might have helped them!