Smart Semester: Corporate Internship Tips From Students in the Workforce

This is the final post in our college series, “Your Smart Semester: Technology 101,” where we invited Ali Hendricks, a Butler University student, to spend a little time with technology and give us her college take. Today, Ali is talking with undergraduates and post grads about finding great corporate internships.

Simply having an internship during college isn’t enough anymore. You need to do something worthwhile at your internship – something you can talk about in an interview.

One sure way to jump feet first into the nitty-gritty of the real working world is to land a corporate internship. A corporate environment is typically less laid back, and interns are usually expected to behave like regular full-time employees. It’s basically like the real world thrown at you for less money than a real-world salary.

I know, sounds awesome, huh? Don’t be running the other way just yet; the experience truly is priceless!

Since landing a corporate internship can be very competitive, I thought I’d chat with a few students who were corporate interns this summer to hear what corporate internship tips they had to share.

Connor Miller, DePauw University, Communications Intern, Cummins

I work in the marketing communications department for the engine business unit - that’s my job description. My department packages information for other business units to use and I assist in the process. I create PowerPoints, Excel sheets and organize volunteer projects for the group.

How did you land your internship?

I found out about it through my old job. I was at one of the employee’s houses for Cutco and she said she worked at Cummins and told me I should, too. I sent her my info, and then she told me I needed to apply online, which I did. Then I had three phone interviews, and I got the job.

What previous experience do you think helped you get the internship at Cummins?

My manager told me the reason I was hired was because I’m resilient in overcoming obstacles and achieving goals. My manager had previously been a Cutco sales rep and she knew how hard it was, so she hired me because I succeeded at selling. She hired me even though I didn’t meet the GPA requirements.

Do you have any advice for college students looking for corporate internships?

Talk to as many people as you possibly can and be really honest.

Stacy Hauersperger, Purdue University, Financial Analyst Intern, General Mills

I was placed in investor relations for the summer, but all finance interns are just placed according to the need at the time. I don't really have a job description, just project objectives.

General Mills intern Stacy Hauersperger mugging with Hamburger Helper mascot

How did you land your internship?

I was actually invited to an info session because General Mills had found my resume on its online career center (we upload our resumes and post what type of jobs we are looking for). So I went to the info session, then later stopped at their booth at the career fair.

What do you think helped you be a winning candidate for this internship?

I am very involved in school organizations and also work hard in my classes. But other than that, I did my research on the company. Being confident in yourself when you talk to the recruiters never hurts either.

How did you use technology in the process?

I used the company website to research the CEO, CFO, mission and values, etc. I also used Yahoo! Finance to look up the stock history. Once I got the job, I added my manager on LinkedIn. When it comes to Facebook or social media, I make sure to keep it clean on a regular basis so I won't have to delete anything when it’s recruiting season. However, I do know a lot of people who delete their Facebook profiles, as well.

Do you have any tips for college students looking for corporate internships?

Depending on the corporation, there are usually GPA cutoffs. So really apply yourself in school and be very proactive when it comes to applying for jobs. Applying online before you actually go to a booth at a career fair is a good tip to set yourself apart and show your interest in the company.

Kevin White, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee graduate, Post-Grad Corporate Communications Intern, Verizon Wireless

I’m in a post graduate internship position within the corporate communications department at Verizon Wireless. I assist the team in distributing external communications via blogs, social media, etc.

How did you land your internship?

Someone within my network told me about the position last year. There were no openings at the time, but I stayed in contact with my network and people within the company. Once there was an opening, I jumped on it. There were several interviews (over the phone and in person) until they eventually hired me.

Were there any special things you think helped you land the job?

Definitely building relationships and finding a position that aligned perfectly with my background.

How did you use technology in the process?

I often used email from my mobile phone to communicate with employers for interviews, etc. I also used Google Maps and other navigation apps to get to and from interviews.

How is having a post-grad internship different than having an undergrad internship?

More is expected of you when you’re in a post-grad internship. For example, being on time and dressing appropriately should be a given at this point. You also have more responsibility because you work full days as opposed to part-time hours.

Do you have any tips for college students looking to get a corporate internship?

Yes, build your network and stay in contact with people who care about your future. It may be an old professor, manager, etc. Stay in contact with these people even if you don’t communicate with them on a regular basis. They can help you get in front of the right people – especially if they like you and see your potential. Also, make sure to keep upgrading your skills. If you’re studying to become a journalist, write on a regular basis. If you’re studying to become a lawyer, read law books. If you’re studying to become an accountant, help your friends with their taxes. You get the point. It’s great to have a degree, but the more expertise you have in your field will make you that much more appealing to employers.

Great tips, right? I hope you made it through this entire post because these corporate internship tips are really helpful, and each of the three corporate interns had very different experiences.

Having a little bit of corporate experience, even if you don’t think it’s what you want to do forever, really is a good thing to have on your resume. Plus, the awesome thing about having an internship is you get to see if the corporate world is where you want to be. If not, you still have time in college to figure it out.

HUGE thanks to Ali for all the great content and advice she shared with us through her Smart Semester series! Best of luck in your future endeavors, Ali.

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