This episode will cover the internship basics. What is an internship?, why might you want to have one?, and how to find an internship?
(upbeat music) - [Voiceover] This is
Buffalo State Data Talk, the podcast where we introduce
you to how data is used and explore careers that involve data. (upbeat music continues)
- Hello and welcome to the
Buffalo State Data Talk, summer 2021 mini series
all about internships. I'm your host, Heather Campbell. And our summer episodes
will explore the process of finding and making the
most of your internship.
We'll be focusing on field
data science and analytics, but many of these tips will be applicable to numerous fields and also
if you're searching for a job. From networking to Acing that interview, our experienced panel of guests
will provide excellent
tips and tricks to land you your next internship. In today's episode, we'll start
with the internship basics. What is an internship and why
might you want to have one? How to find an internship?
Let me introduce you to our speakers. Today, we'll be talking to Claire Patrie, a talent acquisition and
HR expert from Buffalo. Thanks for joining us today Claire. - Thanks for having me Heather.
- Dr. Ramona Santa-Maria,
the internship coordinator for the computer information
systems department at Buffalo State College. Thanks for joining us today Ramona. - Thanks for having me Heather.
I love talking about CS and data. - I'Jaz Eberhardt, a journalist
and a Buffalo State College data science and analytics alumni. Thanks for joining us today I'Jaz. - Thank you so much for having me.
- We'll be welcoming back to
the show today Bill Bauer, the education and diversity director at the BioXFEL NSF Science
& Technology Center at Hauptman-Woodward Institute. Thanks for joining us today Bill.
- Thanks for having me. - Denise Harris, the director of the Career Development
Center at Buffalo State College. Thanks for joining us today Denise. - Thank you so much.
I'm excited to be here.
- So before we go in too
far, could you explain to me what exactly is the difference
between an internship and a job and why would
somebody maybe wanna do one over the other? - So internships are typically
for a set amount of time
and considered to be
a temporary employment where this is not usually
the case with the job. Some internships may also
not pay the students. I would recommend finding
one that does pay you. Your time has value
and you should get compensated for that. But sometimes that's not always an option. So I guess those are the
two biggest differences. - So, I think that's a great question 'cause a lot of people
don't know the difference.
So there's actually three areas. There's internships, apprenticeships and then there is jobs, careers. So what we're looking
for within a internship versus an apprenticeship,
an apprenticeship is usually
something that's more hands-on and it might be in more of a hands-on field like
plumbing, electrician, something like that where you would be working under a master.
Whereas in an internship,
what's you're trying to do is find more focus within your academic area and you're trying to get new
skills that'll move you onto a career path and a job. - Have you yourself ever
completed an internship?
- Yeah, so I started my
career with two internships in the same company that I'm in now, Hauptman-Woodward Medical
Research Institute. And I liked it enough that
I stayed on and got my PhD through that program in
University of Buffalo.
And I'm still there now, many years later. I won't say how many. - So what did you take
away from your experience? You know what? From your internship
experience made you decide
that you wanted to
continue working at HWI. - Right, so I think for me it
was really my first experience in the sciences and it taught me that I really did enjoy doing this. I like being the first person to ever see
the thing that we're studying and first person to understand it even with systems that
may have been around for millions of years. And so I thought that part was really cool
and I liked being a part of that. And so this is really how the internships should work, right? This should be your first
experience in the field and your chance to figure
out if you like it or not.
- So I'm wondering, have you yourself ever
completed an internship? - Yes, I completed several. In fact, going back to
my days at SUNY Fredonia, I did three internships.
I did one with the alumni
office where I worked with them and I learned all about the importance of connecting with alumni and then I also did an
internship, I did two internships for a full year back to back
with our leadership development program. Those three internships definitely helped me get into grad school and they helped me really
solidify my career goals. - So you mentioned that you completed
a couple of different internships, some of them you enjoyed,
some you didn't enjoy. So, what kind of things did you take away from these experiences
that were really useful? - Well, the days were really long.
I realized when I was
an undergrad, like, wow, people work a lot. I remember, I was an intern in
a human resources department at children's hospital
in Downtown Buffalo. And it was a beautiful sunny day
and I was stuck in a basement working. They had windows and the
windows were all up top, you know, all up top above us, but we were still in a basement or let's just say like a sub floor.
And it was a great day and
me and one of the other girls walked down to the cafeteria 'cause it was in a different building and I just thought it was
hot and it was wonderful. I thought, and I looked at her and I said,
"When do people go to the beach?" And she says, "Well, on the
weekend, like everyone else." And I was like, working,
oh my God, working. It was just a shock to me. But again, it's an
exposure to a career path
and it kind of lets you know, hey, I need to maybe find a job that gives me a lot of flexibility
or I've gotta find a job or maybe I like a job that's
really structured, right? So just depends on who you are.
But I realized I needed a job
with a lot of flexibility. - So you would say that
completing an internship was a beneficial part of your
master's degree experience. - I feel like every master's program should have a built-in
because it's so much more than, you know, you can learn
something out of a book, you can learn something from a lecture and I have wonderful lecturers and assignments as a DSA student.
But to actually get
that hands on experience before you get into the field to know what you're gonna be doing, to get a taste of putting your
skills to use is so exciting. I feel like having that
really enriched my
experience in the DSA program because it allowed me
to really get hands-on with what I was learning. - Do you think that you are now, after having completed the internship,
you were much better
prepared to start your career than before the internship? - Absolutely I was. I was able to after graduating say, hey, to prospective employers,
look at what I have in my portfolio. These are original
stories I've put together and this is from data that I
requested and processed myself. Because that's what an internship is for. It's to prepare you for your career.
So you should really
be looking at something that can give you a taste
for what you're hoping to do. Having that internship really allowed me to make myself more marketable. - So what would you say
is the very first step
in your search for a job or an internship? - My advice with this question
is the very first step is to get clear on what
you're looking for. So my advice would be to work with your career services office
if you need more options
or conduct some informational interviews to learn about different
fields that might interest you. But being clear before you get started because being a little more
targeted with your resume and your outreach to recruiters
and HR I think will yield
better results than just
saying you're open to anything. - So if you're a student and you're interested in
finding an internship, where do you start? What do you do?
- It's a great question but probably the hardest
question to answer because there's so many
different ways to go with that. So of course, network. Everybody you know should know
that you want to start
building your portfolio. Network. Number two, once you're done networking, then start working with your
career development center at your college, right?
They always know people, they know places and they always have opportunities. No one is going to think
about an opportunity for you unless they know you're
looking for an opportunity. The same goes for when
you're looking for a job.
When you're looking for a job tell every single person that you know. Even if you're in the grocery store, like, oh, hey, I'm talking to somebody. Just so you know, I'm
working here at Arby's
or, you know, someplace, fast food place, but I'm really looking, I'm in school and I'm looking
for more opportunities. Do you have anything? So network with people,
network with your career
development center because if they know you're
looking for something and a job comes across somebody's desk, they're going to send it to you. Once you have an idea of what career field
or what skills you wanna get, then you need to do the big search, right? Then you've gotta look, you gotta start, you know, everybody goes on Google. Well, okay, go on Google, look for jobs,
but you also need to
go on Glassdoor, right? You need to go on Indeed. You need to absolutely
get involved in LinkedIn. There are tons of groups
on LinkedIn, local groups. And you need to go on LinkedIn
and start making yourself
have a digital presence. - Alright, well, the Internet's
made this much easier than it used to be. Just a simple search in
your favorite browser or a search engine can
really help you find
what you're looking for. There are a few sites though that manage curated lists of internship opportunities. One of them is the Institute
for Broadening Participation. That's at PathwaysToScience.org.
They have thousands of them
specifically geared towards underrepresented minorities,
but a ton of programs listed. If you find one of these programs or websites that list all
these, it really can be helpful. We list a lot of them on our website too.
And so that could be a
useful place to start. - And we can add those links to the description of the episode. What kind of companies hire internships, not for profit, academic,
government, where should you look?
- Not really all of them. So, you can find internship programs with really big companies
like Amazon and Google and you can find them
with small nonprofits, even in government labs.
And we have collaborators
that we work with that do all of these things. And so it, no matter
what you're looking for, there's a possibility of
finding internship program in something, in a
related field or company.
- Could you talk about
whether you typically see, are internships normally
paid, normally unpaid, does it depend on the business? - Right. Most of the ones that I've
seen are paid internships.
So if you're in the sciences,
this is pretty typical. There'll be a funded program that provides support to the students. I think more often you'll
find unpaid internships with companies and
places that may not have
the funds to support
an internship program. And so they do exist. Of course, people would
always prefer to get paid but some cases it maybe your
only way into a company. And so it could still be worth
taking an unpaid internship.
- There is a law and
it's informally called the Black Swan Law. And this law means that the student has to gain a greater benefit. If it's an unpaid internship,
the student has to gain a
greater benefit than the company from the work that the student does. So every company wants an intern. Every company wants to
pay an intern nothing. If you're in an unpaid internship,
you should always be
getting a greater benefit from all of the things
that you're doing there than the company is getting from you. - If a student wants to have a position, when should they start looking?
Like, maybe they want
a position for summer, when should they start? - That's a good question too. And in my experience, it
depends on the company. Some of the smaller
companies I've worked for,
we post our internships
on our careers site just like we would any full-time job. And anything posted on the career site, we're typically looking to fill within two to three months time.
So if you're not gonna be available, kind of within that two to three months then I would probably hold off and start applying like
a little bit closer. So if you're graduating in May
maybe start applying in
like February, March, but I wouldn't apply maybe
back in November, December, 'cause we're gonna try
to have that role filled before you graduate. So, yeah.
Definitely depends on the company
if they have like a formal program or schedule,
you know, that's posted, then make sure to follow those directions but otherwise I would assume
like a few months out. - If you're a student specifically
and you're looking for an internship, when should you start looking? Like, if you wanted to complete an internship over the summer, when should you start
working on your resume
and actually applying? - That's a great question. I actually think it's
never too early to start. Again if, you know, one of the first kind of points we made today
was to talk about getting your resume and your cover letter ready to go so you can start kind of searching. If you know you wanna
intern in the summer, I would definitely start believe it or not
in the fall semester kind
of doing your due diligence, doing your homework, connecting
with your faculty members, connecting with career development, making sure your resume is ready to go, reaching out and making those contacts.
- So usually the best time to
looking would be in the fall. This could be maybe September or October. This is when most programs will open up their application process. And then they'll have due dates
sometime early in the next year. So maybe January, February. And so if you really need to plan ahead, if you want to do something
for the next summer. - When should you start
thinking about an internship?
Immediately. Immediately. - So if you have a company that you're really
interested in working for, but maybe, you know, they're
not hiring interns right now
or they're not hiring
a position right now, what would you suggest to do to kind of maybe get
your foot in the door? - That's a great question. You know, a lot of positions
are gonna be posted,
you know, there's a lot of
great websites like Indeed or actually searching on the
individual company's website to find out if they're gonna
be excited or hosting interns. But a lot of times they just don't, you know, it takes a lot
of work to host an intern
and some companies don't think
that they have the capacity to do that. So I love when students reach
out and say, you know what? I really wanna work for
X, Y, Z organization, but nothing's posted.
So what you wanna do is you wanna send like a letter of intent or a letter of inquiry. Just kind of asking and saying, hey, this is who I am, these
are the skills that I have
and I would love to work
on this specific project or this specific initiative with you and someone from your organization. Would you be willing to
take me on as an intern? And the more kind of proactive
you are in your approach,
it really does benefit the organization 'cause they know that you're
a go getter and you're excited and you already have an
idea of what you want. You're not waiting for
them to think of tasks or ideas for you 'cause
that's a lot of work on them.
So you wanna be proactive,
you wanna be professional. You wanna send them your
resume and your cover letter. Your cover letter though
being a little bit more like you're not applying for a specific job, you are inviting them to kind of
have a conversation with you. You can also connect with
them on LinkedIn and say, hey, listen, I would love to,
you know, learn more about, and even if it's not an internship, it could be maybe an
where you can just, you know,
pick the brain of the CEO or the head of the organization and find out more about how
you can gain the skills. Sometimes networking can
lead to those internships that aren't posted.
- So if you know what
company you wanna work for and maybe what kind of area, how do you decide who to reach out for? Because, you know, it
might not be appropriate to send a letter to the
president of M&T Bank
to ask for an internship. So who should you actually
send your letter to? I mean, of course it
depends on the company but do you have any tips? - Yeah, absolutely.
I mean, I think this is
where the career center can definitely help out. You know, we work with a
lot of different companies. Just again, using M&T as an example, we can connect you with their recruiter
or the person that does kind of facilitate and kind of field those questions. We have Lynn Rogers in our
office that does an amazing job of working with our employers. And I don't think there's any
employers in Western New York
that she doesn't know exactly
who to direct an inquiry to. So she'd be one of the first
people that I would actually bring into your journey. Aside from that, you know,
just doing a general search on their website,
finding out who their human
resources representatives are. If they have a human
resources organization, a lot of times you can go through them and even just ask them, give them a call or send them an email and kind of inquire
about that type of information. I don't think you wanna go
right to the top of the company, but that's another great way
to kind of make a connection in a very appropriate
and professional way. - So what was your favorite
part of your internship?
- My favorite part I would say is actually getting hands on with the data. A lot of what I did as far
as the story composition and the writing was familiar
to me because I am a journalist so that was very much
my area of expertise.
So I loved that it had
that built in component that I was still able to do what I love but I really appreciated getting
more into the data aspect and putting these skills
that I was still developing as a student into practice.
So exploring unfamiliar territory, working with these data
sets that weren't as clean and as perfect as the examples
that I worked with in class, it really gave me that real taste of what I'm gonna be working
with in the real world.
Knowing what questions you want to ask before you just go deep
diving into the data is extremely important and that was one of the most
valuable things that I got from working with the anchor
data in this raw data.
Putting in the request for the data was a really fun thing to do too. Working with Sue McCartney from SBDC. She was fantastic in helping me get the information that I needed.
And that was fun to me. Just really being a data
scientist as the real deal, you know, saying, hey,
I learned this in class. This is where I can utilize
the skill I learned because, you know, a lot of times
an internship requirement
just goes as well. You know, I completed this
because I was supposed to. I got the credit I needed to
get, but it wasn't that for me. It was actually a truly
enriching experience. It was really something that
helped me to put these
skills to use that I learned. So it was fantastic that I
was actually able to do that.
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