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How to get an Internship

A Former Office of Accessibility Intern's Advice for Landing Your Next Internship

12/18/2019 4:12:50 PM

Two women looking at a laptop computer.

By Molly, Former Office of Accessibility Intern, now Studying Abroad!

Internships are the perfect opportunity to dip your toes into the working world and explore potential career options. As the holiday season approaches, you may have relatives asking about your job search and though the prying is well-intentioned, below is some advice that might help you land an internship and get your relatives off your back (no, Auntie Brenda I don’t have a job yet)!

What You Can Learn From Internships

The stereotypical internship includes: making coffee runs, getting stuck doing all the photocopying and printing, and learning exactly zero job skills. I’m happy to report I’ve never found that the case with my actual internship. I gained valuable professional skills working in the Office of Accessibility at Minnesota IT Services (MNIT). Since digital accessibility involves working with many different types of documents, I was able to create and remediate PDFs. Working to make documents accessible also helped grow my technical knowledge; I improved my ability to use and learn new software. The Accessibility internship also improved my communication skills because I had to communicate about deadlines or my capacity to work on certain projects. Even better, I only was stuck with printing duty one time which ended in an almost-jammed printer (whoops)!

The All-Powerful Resume

As a fellow internship-seeker, I know one of the most nerve-wracking parts of applying for jobs is worrying if your resume is good enough. Below are a few tips:

  • Brag a little in your resume.
    • While the goal of a resume is to list off your work experience, don’t downplay the roles and responsibilities you held. For example, not only were you a part of Rocket Club, you were chosen to co-lead and coordinate all efforts to build a functioning rocket!
  • Talk about translatable skills!
    • Have you studied abroad? Mention how that experience helped you become more confident and self-starting. Translatable skills can be anything from adaptability to organizational skills.
  • Make your resume accessible.
    • Making an accessible resume will ensure that any and all prospective employers can read it. Furthermore, an accessible document will demonstrate technological savvy, which is always in demand. For example, use Heading Styles! (/mnit/about-mnit/accessibility/electronic-documents/index.jspVisit the Office of Accessibility Electronic documents section for more information on document accessibility).

Finding The Right Fit

Apply to any and all internships that look interesting, even if they might not directly relate to your desired career path. Gaining work experience in a professional environment – regardless of the field – can help you learn non-job-specific skills that are still highly valuable in the working world. The worst that can happen is a polite rejection letter in your inbox (I would know). Besides, you may even discover that you want to pursue a different career!

Preparing For The Interview

Building a resume is stressful enough, but interviewing might be the toughest part of the internship search. There are lots of things to make you anxious — is there any spinach in my teeth? — but I’m typing out this article right now to tell you that you can do it! When I interviewed for the position of Digital Accessibility Intern, I had no previous experience with digital accessibility, had no clue what Section 508 meant, and I was incredibly nervous. All you can do is your best. Here is my “best:”

  • Get a good night’s rest.
    • Review potential questions the night before and then hit the sack. Sleeping will help you be fresh for the interview.
  • It is okay to acknowledge your weaknesses when answering a question.
    • Make sure to talk about how you are working on them though!
  • When you leave the room, congratulate yourself for putting yourself out there.
    • I’m proud of you for going after something you want. And even if it doesn’t work out, I’m still proud of you!

And if you are interested, keep an eye on the /mnit/about-mnit/careers/index.jspMNIT Career Opportunities page and apply to the Office of Accessibility Internship when it is posted! I look forward to reading your (you, the next Accessibility Intern) articles in this newsletter.

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