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What advice do you have for students looking for internships in stem?

I have been applying to many different internships. Some research and some other positions, however I have been having difficulty getting call backs or responses. Do you have any advice about how I can increase my chances of being accepted? #collegeintern #researcher #tech #college #science # #engineer #engineer #engineeradvice


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Melissa’s Answer

Hi Makari,

The others provided fantastic suggestions to your inquiry. I'll add one more brief suggestion: be flexible and open. If you're not finding an internship in exactly the field you're interested in, broaden your search to something that is similar but perhaps a little different. For example, while I was in college, I was focusing on one type of engineering, but then took an internship with a different type in order to gain experience. I learned new skills that I would have missed if I didn't remain open to a different possibility.

Best of luck and let us know if you have more questions!

Thank you Melissa! Makari J.

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Wayne’s Answer

Hi Makari. Getting that first internship can take some time but keep going, it will be worth it! You may want to have a school teacher or advisor review your resume and give you some interview tips. Once you do that, keep applying.

This site is a good place to search for internships: https://www.indeed.com/jobs?q=Stem%20%20Internship%20Program&l&vjk=0249d2b38ad6d05f

An internship is an invaluable step toward finding a career in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Landing a coveted STEM internship takes diligence and resolve. Although there are a few challenges that might seem insurmountable, all obstacles can be overcome.

Apply early. STEM internships are competitive, with hundreds or thousands of applicants often applying within the first few days. Sometimes being one of the first applicants can make your polished resume and application stand out before it gets lost in the masses. There are STEM jobs everywhere. Any company can offer you a valuable STEM experience. Seek out and utilize any connections you have in a company with an IT or technology department. Consider a federal STEM internship or research opportunity.

Be positive and persistent. Reach out to companies that you have applied to after a few weeks, and politely ask if your application could be considered.

Once you have landed a STEM internship that you applied for—now what? Like most first-time interns, your mind might be racing with the endless possibilities that come with this exciting first step. What challenges might you face? One of the most common is feeling that you’re assigned low-level tasks that don’t take advantage of your knowledge.

Be patient: Make sure you’ve done a great job with the tasks you’ve been assigned; after some time has passed, reach out to your supervisor. Let him or know that you value your internship experience so far and would be excited to try some new and more advanced tasks. In this challenge, as with all communication, how you say something is just as important as what you say.

Be polite: While still speaking plainly about your desire for more advanced work, the opposite can also occur, where you feel overwhelmed with a lot of work (or too advanced work). Just as before, communication is the key to making things better. A reasonable first step in addressing your feelings of being overwhelmed is to reach out to a mentor or someone at the company whom you trust. Let them know you look up to how they work and seek their advice. If after some guidance and assistance, you are still feeling overwhelmed, speak with your supervisor. Let them know that you need some help in specific areas and want to improve.

Learn and grow, not to compete. What do you do when there’s negative competition with your fellow interns? First, realize your true purpose for being an intern in a STEM company. Your focus should be on learning and making a good name for yourself, not worrying about the reputation of the other interns. Having a professional and drama-free approach to your internship will help you rise above the negativity and focus on the things that will move you forward.

Good luck!

I agree with this. Great advice. Be open to learning something new. No two internships will be unique. You can always learn things from your colleagues and pick up new skills. Just try to make sure that these skills are transferable and not company specific. Other than that, keep an open mind! :) Pawan Garg

Oh wow ! Thank you so much for your insight! I will definitely utilize this information. Makari J.

You're very welcome. Wayne Archibald

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Deborah (Dee)’s Answer

Be persistent and don't get discouraged. I have worked for a major company for 25+ years and know first hand that hiring is a very long process and many times you will not hear back for several weeks if not months. You should continue to apply to as many internship opportunities that you find and follow up with the hiring manager if you haven't heard back. Good Luck!

Thank you so much for this advice! Makari J.

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Marie’s Answer

Hi Makari! Does your university/school have a career guidance service? If you haven't already, asking them to review your resume might give you insights into why you're having difficulty getting a call back. Recruiters have to be absolutely brutal because they receive so many applications, and there could be some tiny flaw with your resume that's getting it sent straight to the reject pile. Career guidance counselors often have knowledge of the specific hiring processes at big STEM companies, so they might also be able to give you pointers on how to make a good impression. And as mentioned above, they can help with mock interview sessions and finding internship opportunities.

Once you get an interview, do lots of research on the company! What are their biggest products and business values? Who's the CEO? Who is their main audience? Memorize some basic facts. I know it seems obvious, but a lot of people don't do it! Also, come up with good answers for typical interview questions like your biggest professional/personal achievements, your strengths, times you've dealt with difficult situations, etc. Again, obvious, but it can be hard to think of answers to basic questions like these on the spot.

Once you're in the internship, the best advice I've heard is "look sideways". Connect with people outside your organizational area and learn about opportunities in other parts of the business. Also, volunteer for everything and get your name and face out there! An internship is no guarantee of a job, but you can increase your chances by making yourself more visible.

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Bryce’s Answer

Hi Makari,

The first internship is always the hardest, because of the lack of experience. I have found that great opportunities for internships or research experience in stems are right on college campuses. Many professors at colleges in the stem field are completing their own research. This is a great opportunity to get internship/research experiences. Often times these professors are always looking for people to help out you just have to ask and they will most likely say yes to any extra help they can get. These internships are a great way to get experience in your field, which will make you more marketable in the future. Whatever you do don't give up and don't get discouraged something good is always on the horizon.

Thank you so much for your advice! I find it to be very helpful! Makari J.

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Richard’s Answer

The three most important steps to take to maximize your chances of getting an internship or job in a STEM field are writing your resume in a way that maximizes your experience so far, refining your interviewing skills to comfortably talk about your experiences and class-specific knowledge, and networking with classmates, professors, and industry professionals.

First, work on your resume. Ask your friends, advisors, and mentors to review your resume to ensure you do not have any errors. Make sure you write effectively by using words that describe what you did and why it was important rather than just purely describing. Add details.

Next, work on your interview skills. The best way to do this is doing mock interviews. It may be a bit awkward at first to practice interviewing with your friends, but doing so will make you much more comfortable in actual interview environments.

Finally, network the entire time you are in college. Try your best to make meaningful connections with those around you. Send your resume out to different companies and make a LinkedIn profile. Doing so will boost the odds of you getting in touch with a recruiter.

Thank you, thank you! Makari J.

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Deborah (Dee)’s Answer

Be persistent and don't get discouraged. I have worked for a major company for 25+ years and know first hand that hiring is a very long process and many times you will not hear back for several weeks if not months. You should continue to apply to as many internship opportunities that you find and follow up with the hiring manager if you haven't heard back. Good Luck!

Thank you! Makari J.

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Alexis’s Answer

Hey Makari!

As a recent grad of college, I totally remember how hard it was to get my first internship in the STEM field. What I found helpful to get responses from recruiters and company was to put my technical skills and projects I have done in and out of school on my resume. If you have taken relevant courses to the job you are applying to, then you could include it in your resume if you feel like you are lacking of experiences! (i.e. for computer programming positions, you could include in your resume that you have taken a data structures and algorithm course under your education section).

Attend career fairs, reach out to professionals on linkedin (be respectful and add a note why you want to connect with them when you send the invitation). If you know someone from the company you are applying to, ask (respectfully) for a referral! There are tons of resume coming in for the one position you are applying so having a referral to that position you are applying will get your resume more visibility.

Good luck!!

Alexis recommends the following next steps:

Include technical skills of yours and relevant projects you've done in and out of school
Attend recruitment events (career fairs, networking events, panels)
Reach out to recruiters and professionals for a coffee chat
If you have a connection and have had a good conversation with the professional at the company of your interest, ask for referral to the position you are applying
Don't give up!! you got this :)

Thank you so much ! Makari J.

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Emily’s Answer

Hi Makari,

I agree with the notes so far - don't give up, be persistent, and apply early! In addition, see what your school has to offer to help. It may be helpful to see if there are career fairs (or maybe a virtual career fair) where you can talk to representatives in companies. If not, see if your advisor at school can share any resources with you that may help. You're not alone!

Once you figure out the resources available, use them to your advantage. Go to the career fairs. Go early - talk to everyone you can, and get their contact info so you can follow-up with them. If this is not an option, treat interview postings as a career fair - apply to as many as you can, as early as you can. When applying, look up the job postings to see what they're looking for specifically. If needed, tailor your resume and cover letter to help them see how your past experience matches with what they're looking for. Follow up after a few weeks if you do not hear a response.

Once you get an interview, be sure to look up the company before hand to have some talking points. Look up core values, recent news about the company, or interesting statistics that could help drive the conversation or give you a question to ask at the end of the interview. Practice common interview questions before going, and again, see if you can tailor your responses to fit your experiences as well as what you saw they're looking for on the job posting. Ensure to send a thank you email to everyone you can, no matter how small(ex. For the internship I got, they gave us contact information for everyone that we saw that day, including people that just took us to different rooms in the building. I sent thank you emails to everyone they gave on the contact sheet that I had an interaction with.) Thank you emails can also be a good way to follow-up on any topics you feel you may not have answered as completely as you wanted to in the interview.

Once you get an offer, ensure to use all the resources you can in your position to learn as much as possible. It's common that companies offer you a full-time position after the internship, so take the position seriously. Be professional and use resources available to you.

Good luck! Let me know if you have any questions!

Thank you Emily! Makari J.

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