Pause and Evaluate Your Internship Experience

Pause and Evaluate Your Internship Experience

As your internship ends, it is important to pause and evaluate your internship experience. I don’t mean just the evaluation your internship site asked you to do, but asking yourself important questions about your experience.

Every internship experience is filled with positives and negatives. Over the course of 8-12 weeks, you’ve gained new hard and soft skills to add to your resume. What I want you to pause and ponder about, are the intangibles that are not going to be listed on your resume.

Overcoming Challenges

What was the biggest challenge during your internship and how did you overcome it? Did you work on a difficult project, deal with with a co-worker you didn’t really like, or have a supervisor who didn’t seem to have enough time for you. What did you do? What would you have done differently? How would you handle that situation if it were your first real job out of college and not a short term internship?

Your personal evaluation is about moving beyond the surface, beyond the impressive PowerPoint presentation you made, to understanding how your life was impacted. The learning experiences outside of the classroom that prepare you for the real world workplace challenges.

Maybe your challenege wasn’t necessarily at your internship site. Perhaps you did an internship in a different city and your biggest challenge was transportation. I remember juggling an unpaid internship with two part-time jobs one summer. Even if the challenge was external, how will you approach your next internship or full-time job differently because of what you overcame?

Are You Still Excited About Your Major

Did your internship get you more or less excited about your major? Did you come away with a deeper interest or run away dazed and confused?

It’s one thing to learn skills in a classroom and another to actually apply them. Is what you are learning in school matching the work place?

Are there new classes that you want to add to your schedule now that you were exposed to something different?

Was your experience so bad that you think you want to change your major?

If you are having second thoughts about your career choice, don’t throw in the towel just yet. Give it one more chance. It could have been that the organization or company was too big (or small), the department was poorly ran, or they misrepresented what the internship was really about.

Let’s say that you are a finance major and ended up doing a lot of writing for your internship. You discovered that you loved writing more than working with numbers. No need to necessarily become a journalism major. Instead, look for elective courses in writing and/or journalism, and consider a minor if it works. In addition, you can join the school newspaper as contributor to the financal section to start earning bylines. You could also decide to start you own financial blog. Get creative with looking for ways to try out different interests.

Reality is the career you have been dreaming about just might not be that exciting. Give it another shot, but in a different work environment.

Testing the Waters

Part of the great thing about internships is testing the waters in different work environments. I did eight internships between undergrad and grad school. My experience as a public affairs intern for a large nuclear power plant was vastly different than my marketing internship for a private medical advisory firm. Both were places I may not have applied to work post college, but proved to be super interesting internship learning opportunities.

In addition to different types of work spaces, I tried out different fields. Although I was a public relations major, I did internships in public relations, writing, sales and marketing. I stretched and challenged myself beyond the familiar. I also wanted to be able to cast a wide net when it came time to look for a job.

If you think you want to dip your toes into another area, use your next internship to break out of the box and learn something different. Test your social media skills, learn to code, take a sales internship. Jump into something new and it could turn out to be your hidden passion.


Very quickly in my internship life I realized I hated being stuck at a desk all day. I needed variety and movement in whatever path I chose. As a result, when I started applying for jobs before graduation, I looked for jobs that would offer variety. I knew what type of work environment would allow me to thrive and what would be depressing. When I started my career in college admissions, I traveled domestically about 30-40% of the year.

The people I met also left impressions on me, good and bad. Some of my internship supervisors became mentors that I am still in contact with today. If you are still on the countdown to your last day, end your internship with a bang. It is important to keep the connections you’ve made going. Some of the people you met can also help you evaluate what you just experienced.

It is totally okay if the internship experience wasn’t all that you thought it would be. My multiple internships were all different, some better than others. All left an impression on me personally and academically and influenced my career goals.

My internships, my nearly 20 year career in higher education, time spent managing a non-profit internship program all led me to starting this blog and writing a book about my internship experiences. I would have never even considered higher education as a career option if I hadn’t interned in my college’s public affairs office for two years. You never know in the moment, the future impact your internship may have on your life. Keep an open mind, and keep going on to the next opportunity!

The Black Girl 44 Scholarship Makes Internships Accessible

The Black Girl 44 Scholarship Makes Internships Accessible

For African-American women college students planning to intern in Washington, DC this fall, the Black Girl 44 Scholarship can be what makes the dream come true. This scholarship is making DC internships accessible.

Created by former Obama White House alum, Deesha Dyer, The Black Girl 44 Scholarship will award three $1,500 scholarships to Black/African-American women college students who have earned a Washington, D.C. internship that relates to policy, community engagement, community service, advocacy, global relations or politics for Fall 2019.

This private and independent initiative is supported by contributions from more than 55 Black / African-American women who worked in the Obama White House.

Access and Opportunity in Internships

When I managed a DC/MD based non-profit internship program, one of the biggest hurdles to placing interns was the cost of affordable housing. Even with paid internships, the cost of short-term housing, AirBnB rentals or even university housing (for summer internships) makes interning in big cities expensive. This scholarship is shining a light on the issue and trying to make a difference.

Scholarship recipients will be chosen from an application process that runs from June 19 to August 10, 2019. Winners will be notified in August and they will receive their scholarship award at a September luncheon in Washington, D.C.

To find out if you qualify for the Black Girl 44 scholarship, check the details,

Internships Are the Gateway

For certain companies or industries, interning in a major metropolitan area is how students will break into the industry. Internships often serve as the gateway to careers on Wallstreet, in the entertainment world, professional sports and many other industries. Those industries are often ran from primarily major cities. For the students who don’t have the money to take an unpaid internship, or a paid internship in a city they can’t afford to live in, they are at a disadvantage.

Don’t shy away from applying to an internship because housing seems to be an issue. Apply, but then work your sources to find out where, how much and what is possible. If you never get the call for an interview, then you’ve done some research for another time. If you don’t even apply, you will never know. In my book, The Internship Manual, I detail step by step how to find housing in major cities for summer internships. For a quick read, check my blog post, I Got an Internship, Now I Need Housing to get you started first. Don’t let housing hold you back if there is a way for you to make your dream internship happen.

Robert Smith Launches Paid Internship Program

Robert Smith Launches Paid Internship Program

When billionaire businessman Robert Smith announced that he was paying off the entire student loan debt for the Morehouse Class of 2019, he changed the game for those young men. Starting life without student loan debt opens up opportunities for them to pursue careers out of passion, start businesses, and give back without added financial stress.

Well, Mr. Smith is also trying to change the game in the tech sector too.  With the launch of a non-profit organization called InternX, he is creating opportunity and removing barriers of entry of minorities to into the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) space. 

Intern X

Intern X is an eight-week paid internship program that places students in STEM related positions across sectors. Internships are available so far in financial, marketing, software, not-for-profits, and real estate sectors.  Current company partners include AT&T, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Deloitte, Citi and Vista Equity Partners.

The program is aimed at rising sophomores from ethnically underrepresented groups with a minimum GPA of 2.8. These paid internships are located throughout the country with relocation assistance available in some circumstances. The goal is that 1,000 students will have this opportunity. 

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A leader in the tech industry, Smith is the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners. Vista currently manages equity capital commitments of over $46Bn and oversees a portfolio of over 50 software companies that employ over 60,000 people worldwide. In 2017, Smith was named by Forbes as one of the 100 Greatest Living Business Minds.

InternX is operated by Mr. Smith’s non-profit organization, the Fund II Foundation.

Fighting for Diversity

Intern X joins a number of other non-profit organizations fighting to level the playing field and bring diversity corporate America across sectors. Diversity organizations like Management Leadership 4 Tomorrow, T. Howard Foundation, INROADS and Sponsors for Educational Opportunity have for years been fighting for diversity and bringing attention to the lack of people of color in the professional workplace. The common cry from companies too lazy to look is that they “can’t find” talented minority hires.   Organizations like these force companies to open their eyes and remove the excuse that the talent is not available.

As internships continue to grow in importance, these diversity organizations will continue to play a part in making sure that divserse talent across sectors gets recognized.

As a college student, it is vital that you do internships early and often throughout your academic career. In the increasingly competitive job market, internships are the gateway to even getting an interview with some companies after graduation. The experience, connections, networking and mentorship you can gain from internships can be career changing.

To get started on your search, download my free Internship Manual Toolkit.

You Can Have a Great Summer Even Without an Internship

You Can Have a Great Summer Even Without an Internship

Maybe you started looking late or didn’t even consider doing an internship this summer. Reality has hit and now school is out. You can have a great summer even without an internship. 

In between binging on Netflix and a road trip or two,  here are some very creative ways to spend your summer without an internship.

1. Volunteer

Volunteer opportunities come in all shapes and sizes. Look for causes that you care about deeply. There is likely an organization dedicated to it that you can spend time working with this summer. Examples might include promoting organ donor registration, planting gardens in your neighborhood, summer sports leagues, and the list goes on. Google is your friend. You can also search site like for opportunities in your area.

While you are giving back, you can also learn new skills that can help you in the future. Non-profits often lack resources, so the chance to build a social media marketing campaign, learn about budgets, recruit volunteers etc. all present the opportunity to put real skills into action.

One summer, I went to take a donation of clothing to a women’s shelter. Intrigued by the services they provided, I asked to come back the next day to learn more about how they served the women and families. After my tour I asked about an internship in the public relations department. I got it.

Although it was an unpaid internship, I enjoyed spending time with the organization and helping others. However, because it was unpaid, I could only devote about 10 hours per week so I could still work and save money for school. Internship opportunities are everywhere.

2. Get a job

Part-time or full-time jobs in the summer can be hit or miss. I literally had like 15 jobs over the course of my college career. I worked retail at multiple places (Wegmans, Radio Shack, Lord & Taylor, a hardware store and more), was a counselor at recreation center, box office cashier at a movie theatre and was a receptionist at a hospital, all in between my multiple internships. Working at the movie theatre was actually a very fun job that I kept for 2 years. I mean free movies!

My part-time jobs gave me money for school, helped me learn to manage my time, and allowed me to work with a variety of people and personalities. Get out there and start walking into businesses and knocking on doors. In addition to online searches through sites like and

Your summer job can also provide you with future employment references. Take advantage of the opportunity to look at your summer job and contribute creatively to the environment. Offer suggestions and learn about the business – whatever it is. As a manager, one of the questions I used to ask interns during the interview process was, “Tell me about a time at a previous job or internship where you made a suggestion to improve a process?

I wasn’t looking for a prospective intern so tell me they introduced a cost cutting measure saving the company $1 million. I was checking to see that they were actively engaged and thinking of ways to contribute to their work environment.


3. Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC’s)

Massive Online Open Courses are awesome and free. The idea of classes over the summer might not immediately be appealing, but it could be a great experience. You can learn more about a particular area or dive into an entirely new subject.

You can learn to code, build websites, manage social media, learn a foreign language, discover analytics or  study basic business principles. You will gain knowledge, skills and possibly discover a new passion. If you are thinking about changing majors or picking up a minor, MOOC’s can be a chance to take on a new subject without the pressure of messing up your GPA.

4 . Informational interviews

Informational interviews are interviews you conduct with professionals in positions that you want to learn more about. If you think you want be an architect, interview an architect. Want to be a mechanical engineer, interview an engineer.

Informational interviews are the perfect way to explore careers and learn first-hand if you want to go down that path. If you have multiple ideas for career choices, then you can spend the summer doing 3-5 interviews. As a bonus, the person might let you shadow them for a day so that you get an inside peak a day in the life.

Here are 10 questions to ask at an informational interview.

5. Game plan for the next year

In 2013, the 6-year graduation rate was 59 percent at public institutions, 65 percent at private nonprofit institutions, and 32 percent at private for-profit institutions. A lot of college students do not graduate in four-years.

Get a plan and stay on track!

The extra time in college costs money – a lot of money. It results in more debt but also, lost earnings from not being in the work force. Download your free guide, 5 Tips to Make Sure you Graduate in 4 Years to make sure you deveop a plan.

In short, make sure you are on pace to graduate on time. Do a degree audit and make sure that the courses you’ve completed already and are registered for, meet the requirements for your major and degree. If you are behind, you need to spend the summer putting together a game plan to catch up. It could mean taking a course at a community college (you can also do this to get ahead), taking a summer course at your school or online, using CLEP tests to earn credit or figuring out a potential independent study option.

If you are nearing your third or fourth year and you are not on track to graduate on time, you might need to take an overloaded schedule or find an internship for academic credit to graduate on time. Don’t wait until it is too late.

6. Keep looking for an Internship

In May and even early June you might still be able to land an internship. It might not be your dream internship but an experience nonetheless. One month – 6 weeks is still a good amount of time to test the waters of a new profession, test your classroom application skills and make some important networking connections.

If you didn’t land an internship this summer, all hope is not lost for you to still have a productive summer. If you have other suggestions, share them below.

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I Got an Internship, Now I Need Summer Housing

I Got an Internship, Now I Need Summer Housing

Congrats is in order because you worked hard and got an internship! Now, you need to hustle to find summer housing. Interning in a new city can be an exciting opportunity to learn a new place, gain independence and test out a potential future new home.

The clock is ticking to make this happen and you need to step up your housing search – fast. If you are still waiting to hear back from an internship interview, do some research so that you are ready to jump into action if an offer comes in. It doesn’t matter if you are going to Seattle, Washington or Washington, DC, I’ve outlined a few questions you need to answer for yourself ASAP.

There are four basic housing questions you should be researching now:

1) Where am I going to live?

Start with the local colleges and universities in the area to see if they allow summer housing for non-university students. Colleges including Columbia, FIT and NYU are a few places to start in NYC. Also in NYC you have the option of going through Educational Housing Services (EHS).

EHS offers student and intern-­only residences in six New York City neighborhoods.

Los Angeles bound interns can start with UCLA summer housing as an option. You may need to provide proof of your internship in order to secure a place on the UCLA campus. Another popular option is the Park La Brea Apartments which offers short-term leases for the summer.

Washington, DC is a another student friendly destination with intern housing options available at George Washington University, George Mason, American University and many others. If campus housing isn’t your style, you can try and sublet an apartment through Craigslist or AirBnB (be careful). If you can afford it, corporate housing through Oakwood Temporary Housing is available in many major cities as well. 

It is also time to put your network to work. Start asking around to family, friends, fraternity brothers, sorority sisters, religious organizations, professional associations and other resources to see if someone has an extra bedroom or couch for you to crash on.

2) How much is it going to cost me?

Probably more than you thought if you are going from a small city to a big city situation. You could find yourself handing over $2,000 or more of your hard earned summer cash for housing in New York. A room at New York University is going to set you back between $222 and $481 per week depending on your room choice. The meal plan will cost you an additional $149 per week for the most affordable option.

If you are headed to Washington, DC and considering housing at George Washington University, expect to pay between $280 to $434 per week for quads to single rooms. The difference between an eight-week internship and a 12-week internship could be as much as $1,000 more out of pocket. You need to also understand if there are any additional application fees and/or deposits and if payments are due in full or through payment plans.

The costs for some places will be charged all up front, while others may allow for monthly or weekly payments. If you don’t have the full amount due, find the housing option that lets you make payments.

As a student, as much as I wanted to intern in a bigger city, my pockets just weren’t that deep. But, if you aren’t a senior you have the chance to start planning now. Save your money this year so that next summer you can intern in your dream location.

3) How am I going to eat?

If you are living in a major city on a $15 per hour intern salary, you can’t afford to eat out for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Really you can barely afford to eat! Either you will need a meal plan or a kitchen to cook. For this reason, I do think that living on campus and selecting a meal plan could turn out to be a great option for many students.

Living in an apartment will give you the ability to cook, which is probably the cheapest option. If you can’t cook, you need to learn a few quick, inexpensive meals before you go. Make sure you know where the grocery stores are. Renting a place on AirBNB only to find out you need a car to get to the nearest restaurants and grocery stores would make summer really hard if you don’t have a car.

4) How will I get to work?


Some cities have awesome public transportation systems including trains and buses. Get to know the routes, the costs and how long your commute will be. Understand that all transportation systems are not created equal. The New York City subway is vastly different than DC metro train system. Understand where you will be living and if you will need a car to even get to the train station.

West coast interns will be best served by having a car. If you don’t have one, just make sure you live on a bus line and not too far from your internship. Taking public transportation or paying for gas on a long commute can start to impact your pockets. Make a budget that includes transportation expenses so that you are not hit with surprises to your budget later.

Obviously you will likely have the option of Uber, Lyft or another rideshare service. Most cities have one or the other, but not all cities do so make sure you know that beforehand. There are also bikeshare programs and services like Zipcar that might be an option for you as well. Whatever your method that you plan to use, know your numbers. Have a transportation budget that won’t let you broke.

Embrace the Experience

These are just a few things to bring to your attention as you go through this search process. Interning in a new city can be an exciting adventure but it does take some planning.

Let the adventure take you beyond your internship. Get to know the city, experience the culture, the foods and the people. In addition to getting to know your fellow interns and co-workers, you will meet people in your summer housing unit. You can also stretch yourself and look for meeting or professional networking events sponsored by organizations you are a part of.

In my book The Internship Manual, I dedicate an entire chapter to this topic, “Get Out of the Comfort Zone: Interning Away From Home”. Pick up a copy now so you can learn all you need about finding housing and about being a rock star intern.