The Rangel Center is committed to helping students make a success of their public-service internships. Below you will find information on searching for a position; writing cover letters and resumes; and preparing for interviews. We also provide some advice on how to make a success of your time on the job.
Searching for the Right Position
Finding the right internship can take several months and requires advance planning. The Internet offers the surest bet for locating a position best suited to your needs. The following sites allow you to search by location and subject of interest. Members of the Rangel Center staff are available to meet with students to help them refine their goals for their internships and to guide students towards appropriate organizations. CCNY’s Career Center also provides students assistance with career planning.
http://www.employmentspot.com/ (search key word “internships”)
In addition to these general sources, websites of specific organizations will often offer information on internships in a particular field of interest. If, for example, you have an interest in the arts and humanities, the website of the Municipal Art Society of New York has information on internships in that field. The American Federation of Teachers lists internships in education, for those with an interest in that subject. Rangel Center staff can help you identify organizations in your field of interest.
Also, CCNY’s Career Center also offers an online career library that allows you to search for internships anywhere in the country. http://www.ccnycareercenter.org/ccnyresources.htm
. Many other search engines can be found online.
In looking for internships, you should keep the following in mind:
- Many require certain degrees or years of education. Others may have citizenship requirements or requirements for certain skills. Make sure you are qualified.
- Make sure you are within the application deadline. Often on-line notices are old and have deadlines long past.
- Make sure the internship offers hours sufficient to meet the work requirements of your internship program.
- Summer interns can negotiate specific start and end dates with a sponsor, but student housing in Washington, DC is available only from the last week in May through the first week in August.
- After you have been selected for an internship, the Rangel Center will need confirmation of your selection from a sponsoring organization.
Preparing Resumes and Cover Letters
Members of the Rangel Center staff will gladly review your resume and cover letter. Faculty advisers and CCNY’s Career Center can also help. http://www.ccnycareercenter.org/ccnytools_resumes.htm. Below are links to some sample cover letters and resumes, which we hope you find helpful.
Sample Cover Letters
Preparing for an Interview
Employers may wish to interview you in person or by phone. The interview offers a chance for both the employer AND the student to size each other up and determine if the fit is right. The best way to ensure success is to prepare in advance. In addition to the information presented below, CCNY’s Career Center offers a variety of workshops on interviewing. (http://www.ccnycareercenter.org/ccnyprofworkshops.htm)
Making a Success of Your Time on the Job
Speak clearly. Be on time. For in-person interviews, plan on arriving 15 minutes early to allow for unexpected traffic and other delays. Smile. Remember the names of interviewers and thank each person by name upon exiting the interview.
Know Something About the Organization
The Internet offers a great source of information about your potential employer. Be prepared to answer questions such as: “What do you know about our organization, and why did you choose to apply here for an internship?”
Practice Answering Some Standard Interview Questions
1. Tell me something about yourself.
2. Why should we hire you?
3. What is your greatest strength?
4. What are your weaknesses? (The best way to answer this question is by describing a weakness and what you have done about it. For example, you might allow that you have difficulty with public speaking, but point out that you have improved steadily after having been a member of Toast Masters for several years.)
5. What are some of your proudest accomplishments?
6. Describe a challenge you have confronted in your life and how you dealt with it.
7. Where do you see yourself in five years? (This question makes most lists of “worst interview questions,” but it is still asked, and you should prepare an answer.)
8. What made you choose your major?
9. Tell me about CCNY.
10. What class, professor, book, or experience, has had a significant impact on your life and why?
The best bet is to make conservative choices in attire. For men, jackets and ties are the safest choice. For women, blazers with skirt or slacks fit the bill. No loud colors, no excessive skin, no athletic shoes or jeans.
Be Prepared to Ask Some Thoughtful Questions
1. What projects will I be working on?
2. Can you describe what my typical day would be like?
3. What do you think will be the most important things I will learn from this experience?
4. What is the best thing about working here?
5. What is the greatest challenge I will face in this job?
6. What are the two or three things you value most in employees?
Thank those who interview you as you leave. Follow up with an email or a letter thanking them for their time.
If all goes well, your internship will provide you with the contacts and experience that help make for a successful career. Making sure all goes well is mostly up to you. Below we offer some guidance on making the most of your experience.
Prepare For Your First Day
– In advance of your arrival, study the organization’s Web site and read up on recent reports and news releases. Go to the office on your first day informed about what the organization has been working on.
– Most internships involve some routine clerical duties. However, our expectation is that you will be exposed to at least some professional-level work. So, how do you handle the situation if you find your assignments disappointing? The best approach is to refrain from complaining; instead, observe what is going on in the office and ask or volunteer to participate in something you find interesting. If that approach does not work, contact the Rangel staff for advice.
- Be aware of and abide by the policies and procedures of your employer.
Hours of Work
- Remember, students must work the number of hours required for their internship program. Specific start and end dates, as well as daily hours of work, are to be negotiated with your employer. Once you have agreed on a schedule, show up and be on time.
- Practices with regard to office dress vary from organization to organization. It is a good idea to politely inquire in advance about appropriate attire for the office. In general, jeans of any color, t-shirts, athletic shoes, and bare midriffs are almost never appropriate for the work place.