7 answers

Do I need prior work and volunteer experience to get an internship?

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Hi there! I’m currently an undergraduate student majoring in Psychology and hope to find an internship sometime during the next school year. However, I haven’t had any work or volunteer experience before and am looking for some opportunities to help my chances with internships and jobs in the future. I also want relevant work or volunteer experience because it is something I want to experience! #internship #firstjob #volunteer #psychology #undergraduate

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7 answers

Dexter’s Answer

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Hi Juno,

I don't think you need prior work or volunteer experience to get an internship, but it sure does help.

As a hiring manager, the goal of having an intern on my team is the following:
* I want to find a student who shows promise for future work at my company.
* The internship is a way for me to gauge the talent of the student and see how they do during the summer.
* Supporting an intern will take resources away from my team (helping them get up to speed, checkins, etc), but it's worth it if my company benefits from getting a bright future employee.

Given the goals stated above, I definitely love seeing volunteer or prior work experience (even if it's irrelevant to the field I'm hiring for). The reason why is that it shows that the candidate has had experience working in a non-school environment, and thus is more mature. More maturity means less things that can go wrong, as expectations are better set, and less work for the team to bring them on-board.

If you happen to have the time, I would encourage you to go volunteer with the skills you already have and give back to the community that helped make you who you are today. I personally like giving back through catchafire.org, and would encourage others to do the same.

I wish you the best of luck in your future!
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Dexter
This is very useful information. Thank you so much, I appreciate your input! Juno Elsa O. Translate
No problem Juno. Glad it was useful. :) Dexter Arver Translate
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Ashley Ebersberger,’s Answer

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As a Recruiter, it is beneficial to have prior work experience (even if it is working at a restaurant), I would put that on your resume. But if you don't have either volunteer or work experience, try to highlight anything you are doing while in school. Are you part of an organization and/or hold a role in that group? Have you helped plan a campus event? Get creative and try to think of other things you can put on your resume that showcase transferable skills (even if you think it is irrelevant still put it on there). Working in retail was my only work experience and I was able to secure an internship. Also, you can address any additional interests in a cover letter.

Lastly, previous experience depends on the type of internship you are seeking. Some internships may be more strict in their qualifications and some may be more relaxed. I would cast your net wide and apply to as many as you can. Even if you feel you are not qualified, apply - you never know what they are looking for! Best of luck!
This is very helpful, thank you! Juno Elsa O. Translate
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Duyen’s Answer

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Hi Juno!

Having previous work or volunteer experience isn't necessarily a requirement before apply/landing an internship! As a recruiter, what we're looking for is translatable skillset which can be found in school projects, student organizations, or work/volunteer experiences. I was a Neuroscience/Psych major myself back in college, and I found it was most helpful to lean into the areas that I was passionate about (i.e. Charity Fundraising, Being a Tour Guide, etc) and taking on student leadership positions with those organizations which was very helpful when I was on the internship hunt during my sophomore/junior years. If you're looking to get into more of the research-side and having experiences in those areas, using your professors as a resource will also be incredibility helpful since some do research themselves or may know of folks who may need lab assistants!
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Blake’s Answer

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Hey Juno,

You don't necessarily need voluntary experience for an internship, but you do need a way to differentiate yourself from other candidates. A lot of students applying for internships don't have a lot of work experience in their field... because that's what they're in college for, ha. However, in my opinion, volunteering shows dedication. When I see that someone has volunteered, I think that they have taken their own time to help others, which would immediately raise your application among others submitted if all things are equal on the resume.

Thanks,
Blake
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David’s Answer

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It would be good to have some volunteer and shadowing experiences before doing internship but some place will requires and some does not. So really depend on your internship site requirement if they prefer you to have some experiences before working for or with them. I would definitely recommend doing some shadowing or volunteering just to get a feel of the work and area you may decide to move toward for your internship. Without exploring the area of the field you can't really depend on the books what it tells you, on hand experiences give you a better feel of what you will be doing.
This was very useful, thank you so much! Juno Elsa O. Translate
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Yujian’s Answer

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Hi Juno,

I would assume that the type of internships you want are those which are professional, complex and paid internship. If so, based on my personal experience, recruiters are definitely looking for relevant skill sets from your previous volunteering or internship experiences to the position that you are applying. It is never too late to start looking for those experience which require minimum to no prior experience to get your foot into the door and amplify your resume. If you are interested in searching for those relevant experiences, I found very good resources from school's career center or simply word of mouth from your fellow classmates.

I hope this helps and good luck with school!

Yujian
Thank you so much 🙌🏽 I’m definitely interested in some volunteering. Could you share some of the resources you found? Juno Elsa O. Translate
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Ariana’s Answer

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Hi! The benefits of pursuing an internship is that it will help you discover what you do AND don't like about potential career paths! When I was a psychology major, I discovered so much about what daily life in that role could be like,the kind of work environment I wanted to be in, whether I wanted to work for a big company or a small one, the types of clients I wanted to work with, and I learned so much about myself! If you see something that you think may interest you, it doesn't hurt to apply- the more experiences you have, the more you will learn about yourself and what you want to do in the long-term! Good luck!
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