The Internship Search: Answering the Unknown Questions

Hi Northwestern, I’m here to talk about something—which for better or worse, sooner or later—is on everyone’s mind.  Internships. They may be the most indispensable learning opportunity for undergraduates studying communications, but how do you get one, why do you need one, what technically is a cover letter anyway? I am a junior in the School of Communication looking for my first internship, so I certainly do not have all of the answers. What I do have, and what you have too, are some great people and some excellent resources on our side. I hope you will join me on my search for New York City internship, and let my experiences inform and improve your searches.

If there is a place to begin it’s several months ago, when I was wrought over the intern question—a question that can quickly turn into what do I want to do with the rest of my life.  I would recommend against this thinking, your internship is only the first stepping stone to a career.  There is a reason they call it getting your foot in the door, not walking in and making a scene.

I knew the resources, SoConnect, CareerCat but I discovered it was difficult to use these resources productively when I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and believe me I had no clue. All of the job descriptions came across as vague and boring, because I knew I couldn’t commit to them long term. I may have been a film major but I had wandered through the film scene trying on and then abandoning an array of possible careers like old shirts:  Director, Producer, Casting Agent, and Lighting Designer. What I realized after several weeks of serious thought and stress was that my only obligation is to my own happiness, as is yours. The best way to discover what you love naturally is to examine those things you do regularly without external motivation.  For me that passion had always been writing, particularly prose writing.  It’s not something I ever really thought about. It wasn’t anywhere in my major description, but I thought, maybe I’ll do something with that.

I landed, after much thought and more searching, on literary agent.  For those of you who don’t know—as I certainly didn’t—a literary agent is the gate keepers of culture, the pruners of prose…or to some the crusher of dreams.  They decide and advocate for what gets published and what does not. They also negotiate the payment and legal side of publication deals. The job demands a keen eye and lots of reading, but it also opens the door to the publishing world, and you are directly rewarded for your ability to assess the future value of projects. From what I can tell it is the job for me, not an end goal but a starting place, not anything I thought I would be doing, but what I am striving for at the moment.  This is something I can commit to for certainly a summer and perhaps a few years, and that is really all I could ask for.

Unfortunately this is also the point in the blog where everything else becomes speculation.  I have several cover letters drafted on my desktop or waiting in the inboxes of hiring managers.  The only feedback I’ve received is “we’ll hold your resume until we begin reviewing candidates for summer interns,” –it’s better than nothing.  So at the moment I am in limbo, waiting at the mercy of HR representatives and hiring season, but at least I’m out there, and I’m excited, and that is a lot.  If I have any unentitled advice to give, it’s find out what you want to do and apply apply apply, you have a great school behind you and something will come through.  Happy applying.

Our blogger is a Junior RTVF and Weinberg student looking for an internship in New York City for this summer. Follow them as they share their story of an internship search.