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Finding a Student Internship in a Competitive World

With the semester winding down, JMU’s campus is abuzz and pre-finals tensions are rising. As students plan for the upcoming semester, many are hurrying, and often struggling, to find internships and jobs. I know many of us heard something like this upon first entering college: “get as many internships as you can so you can figure out what job you’ll want after graduation”. This is definitely true, but between internet information overload and heavy competition, many students don’t know where to start in their internship search.

Here are a few tips to help you out!

1. Narrow down your interests

What do you want out of an internship? Is there something related to your major or minor that interests you? Do you want to find something involving skills like writing, research, organization/planning, and so on? Do you want hands-on work, or do you like research? Are you interested in studying abroad to work? Do you want to work for the government, or for a business or a non-profit? Would you like to do an internship during the semester, or over the summer (in or out of Harrisonburg)?

2. Make a list of what you need

Are you seeking academic credit for your internship? Do you need a wage or stipend? Are you an international student looking for an internship in the US? If it’s an unpaid internship, will you be needing some form of scholarship?

3. Use your connections

Many times, professors, student organizations, and academic departments will know of internships available to students both within and outside of Harrisonburg. Use these resources! Don’t be afraid to ask questions or use the connections that you have.

4. Handshake

JMU provides all students with Handshake accounts to more easily find compatible internships and jobs. Definitely take advantage of this resource by making your profile and starting the search:

5. JMU’s Career Center

The Career Center at JMU is super helpful for people who need direct resources and direct feedback on internships. The Career Center will help you with networking, scholarships, and utilizing other resources. They are located on the third floor of the Student Success Center and online at:

Finding an internship can feel stressful, but it is definitely possible! Figure out what you want and need, and always use the connections and resources you are given. Happy searching!

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