By Travis Gulbrandson
Every Thursday, students at the University of South Dakota have the opportunity to search for internships, learn about networking or just brush up on their cover letter-writing skills.
The informal session is called Internship Quest and is held in the Academic Commons at I.D. Weeks Library.
“I think this is a good service because with the hiring culture changing, it’s good to have someone to balance ideas off of to see what’s going on in the market,” said Emily Irr, an intern for the Academic & Career Planning Center who runs the sessions. “Now more than ever, companies want people with experience, so we really want to promote internships. They still want that same degree, but they want you to have more experience than they used to.
“So, I think this is good for students to have this available if they want to pursue opportunities,” she said.
A graduate student who is getting her master’s in interdisciplinary studies, with an emphasis on adult higher education and communications, Irr has been helping students since the beginning of this semester.
She said the sessions are based on the needs of the students. While some want help finding internships, others need interview tips.
Some students even have asked for help in picking a major, Irr said.
“I just assess what they want and go from there,” she said. “I helped one student with his cover letter-writing because he wasn’t really sure how to do that. So I helped him review it.
“I’ll also refer them to other people in the office who might have more expertise in certain areas,” she said.
To run the sessions in the most efficient way possible, Irr was provided with a PowerPoint presentation and packets of information on the related topics. There was no formal training for the role, she said.
“I was kind of thrown into it, but I was given all the resources, and my supervisor Heather Johnson is really open to all the questions I have,” Irr said. “She gave me the PowerPoint to look through. Everybody has been really friendly in the department, but I felt confident enough to do it.”
Irr said she hopes more students will utilize the service as it continues.
“Not a lot of students participate,” she said. “I’ve had about five for the whole year. Usually it’s just one that comes to a session. I think a lot of it is that maybe students don’t think about … looking for a job until after they graduate. They’ve got finals and everything going on. It’s a lot to handle.”
This could change as more students take advantage of Internship Quest and tell their friends about it, Irr said.
“I think this is good for students to have this available if they want to pursue opportunities. Maybe they don’t know how to go about it,” she said.
Internship Quest is hosted by the Acadmic & Career Planning Center.
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