Even when placed in internships that largely involve clerical tasks (Old Law, New Questions, 4/23/10), Rider students can still come away with a quality experience. Success depends largely on the student’s own initiative.
First, it helps to accept that in internships, one usually learns by osmosis; that is, an intern gains simply by soaking up the routines and procedures of the workplace. Once you know how a specific place runs, you have a leg up on the competition for an actual job in the future.
Second, an internship is an ideal way to build one’s network. Before the internship ends, I recommend that students take their immediate supervisor out to lunch (it can be as simple as pizza) to talk about career advice and to ask questions about why things happened as they did in the office. If possible, the intern should do this with their immediate supervisor’s supervisor as well. Insist on paying. It will demonstrate your professionalism and the seriousness with which you approached the lunch.
Your network building doesn’t end with the conclusion of the internship. Be sure to keep in touch with the people from your office with a friendly note during the holidays, etc., just to keep in touch and to let them know how you are doing in school. Again, this will distinguish you from every other intern who ever came through that office.
A network of contacts from a series of internships allows a student to have many more opportunities for employment upon graduation. Looking for a job by yourself can be daunting. But if a whole network of people — all of whom remember you fondly from your internships — is looking on your behalf, then job hunting becomes much easier and more effective.
For those interested in internships in politics or public service, the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rider University is ready to offer assistance with résumé writing and finding the appropriate spot during the summer or in the fall or spring semesters. We welcome all inquiries.
– Ben Dworkin,
Director of Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics