There are many ways to gain professional experience outside a traditional full-time, 3-month summer internship. Many organizations do not recruit through a formal process, but that doesn’t mean they do not have interns. Preparation is needed for a successful experience and students are encouraged to begin this process early. OCS provides access to thousands of opportunities around the globe and also helps students craft an experience to fit their unique interests.
- Step One: Determine Your Goals – Is the internship a way to try out a career field, engage in research, or participate in an independent study project? Do you want to improve your foreign language skills or explore a new culture? A great place to start is to understand your career interests, personal values, and skills. Articulating any concrete (or new) goals will help as you consider new and different opportunities.
- Step Two: Make Contact – Building new professional relationships is essentially networking. OCS has numerous resources to help you through this process on our Networking page. Reach out to alums through Cross Campus, LinkedIn, and the Peer Networking Lists in the Career Library in Yale Career Link.
- Step Three: Develop A Learning Plan – After connecting with an individual or organization interested in considering you for an internship, it is important to clarify expectations (both yours and the employer’s) for the experience to be meaningful. Consider developing a Learning Plan in collaboration with your supervisor, which is a document that articulates summer goals, how you will achieve and evaluate them, and the structure of supervision.
Other tips for creating your own professional experience include:
- Be flexible and consider a number of ways to create a professional opportunity: volunteering, part-time jobs, short-term internships, micro-internships, and shadowing.
- Make a list of all the businesses/organizations of interest. What functions do they have that they may need support with? Do they have any opportunities for a part-time student to create something they need?
- Expand the list of potential employers by using the following resources: Guidestar, and CareerShift (Company Search).
- Consider hometown connections who may be able to assist you: family, friends, past teachers/coaches, past supervisors, high school alumni, or a Yale Alumni Club in your area.
- If you are looking for part-time work, you may need to call businesses directly or email your resume to them. This may include micro-internships, or part-time or freelance work including online tutoring, etc.
- Use larger job boards such as CareerShift (access through Yale Career Link, under the Resources section), idealist.org, Indeed.com, and Monster.com. There are many more listed in the Resource Database. Of course, keep your eyes on Yale Career Link’s job board but make use of others as well.
- Network with Yale alumni, peers, and organizations of interest. Review OCS’ tips on doing informational interviews.
Can I find a professional opportunity in my hometown?
Yes! It may take some time and creativity depending on your town or city, but OCS advisors are available to help. You can start by using the resources above for finding employers in your hometown. If you are sending cold emails to local businesses/organizations, here are some pointers:
- Use ‘Dear’ or ‘Hello’ to address the recipient
- Always introduce yourself with your name and that you are a student at Yale
- Share that you are living in your hometown this summer
- Explain some of your interests and make a connection to the work they do
- Ask if they need any full- or part-time help in your areas of interest
- Attach a resume
- Thank them for their time
What about online learning?
You may be interested in skill development either through an online course or self-directed study. Here are a few options:
- Yale students can review online course options through Yale Summer Session.
- You have access to LinkedIn Learning as a Yale student. Access hundreds of skill-based courses.
Don’t forget about podcasts related to careers and career development.
- OCS’ podcasts, “Craft & Career” and “Take This Job and Love It” feature guests tackling a variety of topics relevant to career paths and the job/internship search process.
- How I Got Here, is a podcast that focuses on how professionals found their ideal jobs over the course of their careers. In each episode, two MBA students from MIT Sloan (one is a Yale alum!) interview a professional about how they navigated the twists and turns of their careers.
- How I Built This with Guy Raz goes in-depth with people who built some of the world’s best-known companies.
If Plans Change
Sometimes events outside of your control may force your plans to change. OCS strongly emphasizes the importance of having more than one plan especially if you are considering going internationally. Talk with an OCS advisor about your top choice plan and possible backup plans.