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Securing an Internship


SEC Spring Opportunities Event 2023 (An opportunity to learn about clubs, societies, design teams for the Spring 2023 semester) Picture by Baibhav Nepal
SEC Spring Opportunities Event 2023 (An opportunity to learn about clubs, societies, design teams for the Spring 2023 semester) / Picture by Baibhav Nepal


The application and transition process to college already pose their own challenges, but a student is far from being reprieved of challenges even after they enroll into a department and start progressing towards a degree. The degree is only valuable when the years at college have a blend of good academics as well as experiences that bolster the students’ skills and give a practical experience using classroom knowledge.


The best way to get this experience is through an internship at an institution, or in simple terms, gain any valuable experience in the industry prior to graduation. College is one of the best periods of time to gain knowledge and simultaneously use that knowledge in a practical way to prepare for a future career. An academic career is deemed to be successful with the help of opportunities such as internships. Grades barely speak volume of how a student might have carried themselves over the course of several semesters. Grades are, thus, not solely enough to set an ideal career for a student after graduation. This is the very reason why almost none of the job postings have an extremely high GPA requirement, but rather look for other supporting involvements, such as an industry experience through an internship. Practical experiences are much more valuable in securing a good professional career. All in all, internships are where most careers start, and where most candidates begin their professional upswing in a specific industry.


As students enter their first semester in college, the search for internships already starts. Students visit Career Fairs on campus, fill online applications, and reach out to campus recruiters of various companies to secure a position as an intern. However, the process is tedious, and even after countless applications and hours of effort, the response a freshman most likely receives is that they have very little knowledge at hand and are thus not a good fit at the moment. It may be discouraging, but as a matter of fact, it is all a part and parcel of this process. One must not be afraid of receiving rejections from companies.


Over the course of upcoming semesters, students should build connections with professors, industry professionals, and more during events and programs. Joining design teams, clubs, organizations, and taking best advantage of opportunities can help a student network better at their college. A student spends a majority of time at college between classes, so using that out-of-classroom time to consult with faculty can go a long way in a students’ academic and professional career. Professors can recommend opportunities to students who are passionate towards finding an internship if they get contacted by any alumni or a recruiter. It is pretty common to hear that numerous students get hired in social settings. So, building networks, be it through a classroom advantage or through communicating with people in various social settings and professional events, could potentially be a door towards securing an internship.



Caption: Engineering Information Session (Students get a chance to learn about the design teams of respective departments) Picture by Baibhav Nepal
Caption: Engineering Information Session (Students get a chance to learn about the design teams of respective departments) / Picture by Baibhav Nepal


Virginia Tech has numerous resources a student can access for gaining practical experiences in the industry. The Smith Career Center can be a handy resource to find opportunities or to prepare for an opportunity. Similarly, job sites such as Handshake are a great resource towards finding the perfect opportunities for a student.


Smith Career Center at Virginia Tech  Picture taken from https://eng.vt.edu/admissions/visit/engineering-open-house/EO- H2021Showcase/CareerandProfessionalDevelopment.html
Smith Career Center at Virginia Tech / Picture taken from https://eng.vt.edu/admissions/visit/engineering-open-house/EO- H2021Showcase/CareerandProfessionalDevelopment.html


Most importantly, the career fairs on campus are where students get the best chances to impress a recruiter and get hired in a company. It is one of those rare opportunities where a student can talk to the recruiter and briefly introduce oneself, share personal stories that could be meaningful towards the job, and talk about one’s experiences and activities, all in-person without having been shortlisted or receiving an interview call.



Engineering Exposition, organized by the Student Engineers' Council Picture by Hannah Baker
Engineering Exposition, organized by the Student Engineers' Council / Picture by Hannah Baker


For students housed within the College of Engineering, the Student Engineers’ Council (SEC) organizes the Engineering Exposition, which is a great resource in the form of a Career Fair for students. It is one of the largest student-run career fairs in the country and is dedicated for Engineering students. Students can be well-prepared for the Expo by updating their resume, preparing a good elevator pitch, and targeting certain companies to prepare accordingly before the fair starts. Sparing time from one’s busy schedule to attend the fair between classes and talking with as many campus recruiters as possible definitely increases chances of securing an internship position. In-person conversation with a campus recruiter gives a candidate an upper hand over those who solely apply online.


However, it is also important to focus on personal research and web searches. Career fairs may not always grant you a position. Over the course of the academic year, one can apply to countless opportunities and job postings online. There are several opportunities that open every single day, and the most effort one needs is to update your personal resume and attach it to the applications.



Some of the hiring companies in Handshake / Screenshot by Baibhav Nepal
Some of the hiring companies in Handshake / Screenshot by Baibhav Nepal

Sooner or later, those who are relentless towards securing a position and continue to apply will likely get an offer to be interviewed by a company. One must not be tired of applying or frustrated with rejections. In fact, these are all a part of this process, and there are very few who get their dream job or internship in the first couple of attempts. As long as a student is sparing time to update one’s portfolios and profile, search for potential opportunities, use existing networks to gain opportunities, and apply without fear of being rejected, securing a position as an intern won’t be far off.


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