I’m Kylie, an International Studies and East Asian Studies double major and an Entrepreneurship & Management minor… and I really need to find an internship for the summer. Last summer, I was fortunate enough to find a dream internship in Washington, DC. I worked at the US-ASEAN Business Council (ASEAN = Association of Southeast Asian Nations) on the Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos portfolios. During my internship, I planned 3 business missions, compiled weekly news clippings, ran events honoring ambassadors and government officials, and, most importantly, discovered so many jobs that I would die to have. That said, I am working on applying for and securing an internship for Summer 2012.
How am I supposed to research companies, message my connections on LinkedIn, and fill out endless applications in between all of my classes and work? Well, I guess I’ll just have to stay organized and be as efficient as possible. Recently, I met with Tracy Carter at the Career Center, and she gave me some great advice for starting my internship search. My resume is now reorganized to feature how much experience I have in Asian business development and international government affairs, my cover letter is more interesting and gets right to the point, and I have a strategy moving forward.
First, allow me to explain what I did last year. Around Thanksgiving, I realized that I needed to start planning my summer. My parents told me that I couldn’t go back to the internship I had held in China for two summers. Instead, they wanted me to gain real office experience in the United States. However, because both of my parents have worked from home since I was in elementary school, the idea of a boring office job terrified me. I absolutely did not want to wake up at 6 A.M. to commute into NYC (I’m not exactly a morning person). I’d much prefer living in China and working in the office of a factory, just like I had done for the previous two summers. That job was so much fun; I was able to gain real experience in a factory and was always interested and engaged in what I was working on.
After much commiserating about the internship process, I promised myself that I would focus on finding an internship that I would love — something fun, interesting, and Asia-related. Of course, that’s easier said than done. I spent my winter break researching think tanks, business groups, and NGO’s in the Washington, DC area. I systematically emailed my resume and a writing sample to every person I came across that had anything to do with Asia, specifically focusing on China and manufacturing. My winter break amounted to hundreds of emails. In January, I received responses; many told me that they were only looking for graduate students, but some responses gave me hope. I went on a few interviews in DC and had some phone interviews throughout February and March. Then, in early April, I heard back from the US-ASEAN Business Council and accepted the same day. It was exactly what I was looking for, so I figured I should just commit and start planning my summer.
Luckily, my efforts paid off and my summer internship was perfect! I’m hoping to find an opportunity that matches my interests just as well for this summer, but there’s the added challenge of finding a paid internship. My plan moving forward is to utilize the many connections that I made over the summer. I met people who work at well-known multinational companies, where I would love to work someday. I’m going to have to use LinkedIn and the business cards that I collected over the summer, but I find it very awkward to contact these people after a few months. I don’t even know if they’ll remember me! As of right now, I have my resume and a cover letter all ready to go… now I just need to start working my connections. Over the next few weeks, I’ll talk to my coworkers from last summer for some guidance and start messaging and emailing the people I got to know pretty well. I absolutely hate filing out applications online, so I’m hoping that my direct connections will be fruitful so I don’t have to resort to hours of typing my name and experiences into endless online internship applications. Wish me luck! Fingers crossed that I’ll actually make some progress by next time!