The Office of Experiential Learning answers some FAQs from students who visit the office

Q: (towards the end of the semester) I’ve applied to a couple of my favorite internship sites, but I haven’t heard back from either of them. Should I start applying to others?

A: We get this question a lot, especially from students conducting the first internship search of their career. The short answer is, yes, you should be applying for more internships. More importantly, you should be applying to those other internships at the very beginning of your search, when you apply to your top choices.

Some students¬† start out applying for their first-choice internships, anywhere from one to five sites- and then stop. After all, they don’t want to be in the position of deciding on a second-choice site while waiting for their dream site to get back to them. Better to simply wait and see and then start applying to other sites if they don’t get in, right?

Wrong.

Students, especially first-timers, are often not acclimated to the pace at which hiring decisions are made at companies. These folks are busy… you know, running a bustling business- and often selecting the next intern gets pushed to the bottom of their to-do list. Or maybe they’ll wait to accumulate resumes and make the decision at the end of the month. In other words, while many employers respond promptly, plenty of others might sit on your resume for weeks.

So what are you doing in the meantime? If you haven’t applied to any other sites, you’re banking on the fact that as the deadline to secure an internship approaches, you’ll be the candidate chosen by one of the few sites you’ve applied to- from a pile of other applicants. If you need credits to graduate or are counting on the experience of an internship ahead of graduation, that’s a game of musical chairs you can’t afford to loose.

Instead, we always suggest students give themselves as many “chairs” as possible to grab when the music stops. Ten to 15 applications is a good start. Because some sites won’t get back to you promptly. Others will select someone they think is a more qualified candidate. Some may not feel right to you after an initial interview. The point is, those 10-15 sites may get whittled down to seven, five or three sites to choose from as the deadline to secure an internship looms. And hey, maybe your top-choice site is included amongst them. But even if it’s not- you are now in the position to choose the one among them that best suits your goals. That’s a lot better than scrambling to find something- anything- as the music comes to a stop.

 

Joe Burke is the Office Manager for the Office of Experiential Learning