Internship Search Tips

Searching for an Internship

In addition to searching the web for English Internship Listings, Carlson Center Internships, or UW Career Center Internships, you can come into the English Advising Office in A-2-B Padelford Hall to review past internships and what student interns have written about their experiences.  Another good way of keeping abreast of new internship opportunities is to subscribe yourself to the English Department student e-mail list, called ENGLMAJORS.  You can also investigate a potential internship on your own by approaching an organization or agency engaged in work that interests you.  If students find satisfactory internships through any campus or off-campus source, they may make their own arrangements.  Students frequently find wonderful opportunities through their own personal and professional networks.

The English Department, the Carlson Leadership Center, and the Center for Career Services maintain lists and postings, but are not actively engaged in student placement or recruitment; student interns must secure internships on their own and make their own arrangements with the sponsor.

As you investigate internships, you should keep in mind that you are also interviewing the sponsoring agency: you need to find out whether the internship opportunity is right for you.  Ask yourself if the placement would give you the kind of experience you're looking for.  Talk with the sponsor about your goals and interests.  You may want to interview with more than one agency so that you can compare their merits.

Making Contact

If you are responding to a specific advertised or posted internship position, be sure to follow the sponsor's directions for making application.  If, for example, the advertisement specifies that your materials should be mailed, don't assume that an electronic or fax submission would be appropriate.  Address your correspondence to a specific individual whenever possible.  Application procedures may vary from one organization to another.  Generally speaking, the more an organization relies upon volunteer help to complete its mission, the less formal or rigorous its application procedure will be.  In contrast, a private or professional organization may have a very formal and competitive application process.  If any sponsoring agency has not specified its application procedures, students would do well to send a résumé and cover letter.  Err on the side of professionalism.

If you are inquiring about the possiblity of creating or generating an internship with a potential sponsor, it's a good idea to write a letter of inquiry and follow it up promptly with a phone call.  Again, it's best to address your query to a specific individual, if possible.  Investigate the potential sponsor's web site if possible to learn as much as you can about the organization and locate contact persons.  Letters of inquiry sent by e-mail are often appropriate in this case.  Click here to see a sample query letter.

Preparing Your Résumé and Cover Letter

If you are asked to submit a résumé and cover letter, prepare these documents in a professional manner, just as you would if you were applying for regular employment.  Remember that the purpose of these documents is to get you an interview: they should not be designed as personal history pieces but as marketing tools to "sell" your skills to the sponsoring organization.  Consider yourself from the sponsoring organization's point of view: how can you be of use to the sponsor and contribute to the organization's goals while accomplishing your own learning goals?

There are many resources for help in preparing résumés and cover letters.  Your best resource on UW campus is the UW Career Center, located on the first floor of Mary Gates Hall.  The Center offers regular résumé review, opportunities to meet one-on-one with career counselors, reference materials, workshops, seminars, and many more services for UW students and alumni.  You can also speak with an English adviser in A-2-B Padelford Hall.

For online information from English Advising about writing résumés and cover letters, visit Career Information for English Majors.

Tips on Submitting Writing Samples

Some of the internship sponsors will ask you to submit a writing sample along with your résumé.  How do you choose what to send?  What kinds of writing are appropriate?

If you have done any professional writing (newspaper or magazine articles, press releases, advertising copy, web site content, etc.), you should consider sending this to give the sponsor a sense of the kinds of professional writing experiences you have had.  However, if you have done only academic writing, an essay written for a class is fine.

If the organization is involved in writing, editing, or publishing (as with newspapers, magazines, etc.), it's a good idea to gain a sense of the typical style they employ or publish. Check out their web site, and consider writing a brief sample essay or article for your writing sample which emulates the kinds of work they value.

Whatever you submit, it should not be the copy the instructor has marked.  It should be a clean, manuscript copy.  It should be non-fiction prose (no poems, short stories, etc., unless they are specifically requested).  Whatever you submit should be absolutely clear and correct.  You should know that employers are looking at your writing very differently from your professors.  First and foremost, they want to see that you can write clear, concise, correct English sentences. Your professors may forgive spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, and stylistic infelicities, but an editor or an employer will not.

As far as content is concerned, try to select something that is accessible to a mature, sophisticated audience, but one that is not necessarily well versed in the more obscure areas of English literature or contemporary critical theory.  Don't give them something that is full of "lit crit" jargon or requires an ability to read Middle English or a familiarity with Paradise Lost.  While professors value your ability to piece together complex arguments, replete with textual references, employers are generally more concerned with your ability to present information clearly and efficiently.  Use your intended audience as a rule for what's appropriate.