Let the (Internship) Hunt Begin!

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By Xiang Wang

BOLOGNA — While most SAIS students were excited to experience their first snow in Bologna on February 5th, another item waits on many students’ agendas to be checked off: landing an internship!

For some, the hunting season started as early as September in areas like finance-related internships, for which the online application process starts early. Others are still debating whether to do an internship or not. With anxiety, excitement, confusion filled all over campus, we interviewed students to bring you the latest internship-hunting update at SAIS Europe.

“I am going to have my interview on Friday and I will find out the result soon after,” first-year M.A. candidate Roxana Martinelli said. A Latin American Studies concentrator, Martinelli knows her goal and target well. “I want to work in the combination fields of education, technology, and development in Latin America both this summer and also in the future.” Martinelli began her hunting process back in November. With the specific field she wants to work in mind, she first contacted the D.C. campus concentration adviser for help. “Knowing whom to talk to is important,” she said. “It was not until after three rounds of referring me to another person that I have finally found the right person to speak to. ”

The organization Martinelli applied to has a project exactly matching the area she hopes to work in: Education, Technology, and Development in Latin America. “I am very excited to find out about this opportunity, and I wish to contribute what I have learned from SAIS along with my language skills to this project.” Martinelli mentioned she will end her hunting season possibly as soon as the end of this week.

A large portion of students are using a strategy similar to Martinelli’s: reaching out to the organization or alumni to ask about opportunities. Some have already gone through several rounds of interviews and are waiting to hear the result soon. Other students applied to concentration-sponsored internship programs. Many SAIS Europe students in particular applied internships through the European and Eurasian Studies program.

A small portion of students are confused about what kind of internship they should apply for, and in particular, in which field. Some mentioned their intentions to change career paths post-SAIS. Classes, fellow students, career trips, and lectures all influence these decisions. For many who want to intern abroad, visas may become another issue when deciding which regions to apply for.  This is particularly an issue for international students, which limits the companies to which they can apply due to visa restrictions, especially for paid internships.

Investigation reveals students falling into three different groups: those who are actively seeking internships and already in the interview process; those confused about which sector to target; and finally, the last group: those who have already secured internships. First-year American Foreign Policy concentrator Anthony González is among this last group, and in fact received his summer internship offer within the week.

“I would say being direct and proactive helped me a lot,” González said. Similar to Martinelli, González not only has a specific area he wants to work in, but also a targeted organization. “I went online to the organization’s directories to find the contact information of the office where I wanted to apply,” he said. With a clear goal in mind, he introduced himself to the office and asked for potential internship opportunities. The person in the office kindly directed him to apply through their internship program. After sending out the related application materials to the internship coordinator, within a week, González received the offer.

This might sound easy, but let us step back a little bit. González worked hard preparing for the internship hunt ahead of time. From resume reviews to cover letter workshops to organizational research and networking events, he did not want to miss any chance to reach his goal. During our conversation, González showed a “resume list” which he has been updating for the past four years. “I got lots of rejections in college, and I started this list to help me better reflect and remind myself what my goals are,” González explained. It is a long list with many checkmarks already, including learning a new language, getting into a competitive internship program, and studying at a foreign school in Asia, among others. “I am lucky,” he said at the end. But what González really shows is that chance favors the prepared mind.

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