It’s April, which means students have internships on their minds. Around this time of the year, students are beginning to finalize summer plans to work at companies that will help them build professional skills.
Because I’m looking for my first internship, I’ve spent a lot of time researching the different resources USC offers to make students more attractive internship applicants.
The USC Career Planning & Placement Center allows students to make appointments or walk in to get more information about specific internships or to engage in an ongoing discussion about career paths. The center also encourages students to come in for a mock interview session as well as to seek help from career advisers to make sure their résumés are up to code.
The Viterbi School of Engineering and the Marshall School of Business also have their own career centers that help students find jobs and internships in their respective fields. As they are more familiar with the companies at which their students intern, they can give more specific advice about jobs for which their students are applying.
To some extent, such resources seem to be paying off. According to employers, USC students showcase an exceptional set of skills as interns.
Rebecca Slivka, the director of marketing and leasing at STUHO Student Housing, has hired many USC students as interns.
“What we like is that [the interns] are entrepreneurial. They don’t need to be told what to do all the time,” she said. “They are self-motivated, independent students. I really have no complaints.”
Additionally, USC career advisers have also heard positive feedback from employers about USC interns overall.
“Upon arriving in the workplace, what we hear as kind of a hallmark of a USC student is their leadership potential,” said Kristen Todd, the director of Viterbi Career Resources. “[We hear] that our students tend to be well-rounded and have taken opportunity in leadership here in the school of Viterbi or within the USC community at large, and that translates well in the workplace.”
Clearly, our time as Trojans will prepare us for the work employers expect of us as interns.
But while there is an abundance of resources available, do they actually make a difference when it comes time to interview for the actual positions?
We often focus too much on which internship positions will be the most beneficial to furthering our future careers than the actual process for getting our foot in the door to these internships.
Although available resources can help to make us attractive candidates, we need to remember not to be so engrossed in ourselves that we lose sight of the fact that we’re trying to impress a prospective employer.
“During the interview, students should show enthusiasm for working with my company, how much they know about my company and their willingness and motivation to work,” said Slivka. “It really shows if they’re motivated or look for any internship opportunities.”
Another internship recruiter confirmed that knowledge about the company you’re applying to is incredibly crucial.
“Know your Focus Features films,” said Kirstin Carag, assistant in the national publicity department at Focus Features. “One would be surprised to know how many applicants we get who say they’d love to work at Focus because they love the projects we’ve put out but can’t name a single film.”
In reality, the career centers can only help students so much.
It’s crucial for students to do their homework about their potential employers as well.
So good luck this month finding internships — use USC as a resource, but don’t expect to be able to land that coveted position without taking the initiative to do your own research.
Danielle Nisimov is a sophomore majoring in public relations. Her column “On the SCene” runs Thursdays.