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Finding an Internship as a Freshman

August 30, 2011

Katie Johnson is a student at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, a frequent tweeter (@kjon) and a Voices Contributor at NextGen Journal.

Blogger Katie JohnsonBy Katie Johnson

Securing an internship during my freshman year was probably one of the most rewarding and interesting experiences of my college career thus far. Let me start out by saying this: I’m an overachiever.  My freshman year I aimed to maintain good grades and to be involved with everything.  While attending the student activities fair, I jumped at the opportunity to join clubs; signing my name and e-mail address onto nearly every organization’s clipboard, talking to various student leaders, and of course, enjoying all of the free candy, goldfish, and potted plants (Yes, there were free potted plants!). Getting involved was the best thing I could have done.

Katie Johnson in DC

Through student senate, Katie was able to go on a trip to Washington, DC

I ended up running for the freshman position on student senate… and won.  This was a great opportunity in itself because it helped me to understand and appreciate my school on many different levels; learning the university budgeting process, getting to know faculty, and helping promote different cultures through diversity organizations.  Through student senate, I even was fortunate enough to go to Washington D.C., serving as a delegate to the United States Student Association (USSA) from my school.

In early spring, I wore out my computer searching for internships.

Ultimately this, and my involvement in activities from high school, helped me build up an attractive resume, and led to my strength as a candidate for an internship. In early spring, I wore out my computer searching for internships.  As a political science major, I was at first overwhelmed by the sheer number of opportunities that are out there, but I narrowed my search down and later applied for about five. After many letters, e-mail follow-ups, and a couple of phone interviews, I eventually landed an internship in mid-April for a Congressman from my home district.  I chose to intern locally: Washington D.C. is an expensive place to live, and living on your own in another city is an incredible responsibility, one which I felt I was not ready for at the time.

Interning in a Congressional office was very different from any jobs or volunteer experiences that I’ve had in the past.  I learned to deal with all sorts of people (constituents), both extremely pleased and extremely angry while answering office phones.  I also learned valuable office skills, which I am certain will help me in future internships.  I realized that even the most monotonous job is important because every little task contributes to the overall workings of the office. Interns do more than just lick envelopes and make coffee!

I would encourage other students to follow their passions.  It is important to start somewhere and I believe extracurricular involvement and internships are just the beginning.

Extracurricular’s are a great way to start building your resume as a freshman! What advice would you share with freshmen who are unsure about interning freshman year?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Eric Woodard August 30, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Doing constituent service as an intern in a Congressional Office is one of the best and fastest ways to learn a ton, and make a difference in people's lives. Glad you embraced the experience – good for you!


IrishQueen September 2, 2011 at 9:19 am

I applaud you on your efforts and your maturity. Many people think college kids should wait until Junior or Senior year to do internships. The earlier the better builds up your college resume for your post-graduation jobsearch.


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