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Thread: Advice needed: internships for students with little experience?

  1. #1
    Oct 2007
    Amherst, MA

    Advice needed: internships for students with little experience?

    This past fall semester, I transferred to a new university and changed my major. Now, in my search for a summer internship, I've run into a major roadblock: my work experience, paid, unpaid, and volunteer positions included, includes nothing directly related to planning, though, of course, what I've extracted from these positions has led me to my current interests.

    Also, my university's system is extremely alternative, requiring the each student's concentration be self-designed (which is why I chose to transfer here), which seems like it may be detrimental in searching for internships and jobs. My concentration combines urban planning, architecture, community development, and environmental concerns- sustainable urban design, in short, but truly, it's much more than that. My concern is that this may be perceived as a lack of focus, or a lack of direction.

    What options are there for undergraduates with so little experience? Should I apply for summer internships despite the lack of experience?

    All and any advice and recommendations would be appreciated, thank you in advance!

  2. #2
    Dec 2006
    That's the whole point of internships: to get exposure (and preferably experience in planning). I would start applying now over the holidays for next summer.

  3. #3
    Agreed. They do not expect you to have much, if any, work-related planning experience. The fact that you are studying planning in college and are interested in the field is enough "experience."

  4. #4
    Jul 2007
    Loveland, CO

    Consider unpaid internships

    You may want to shop around to different cities in your area - find one you are interested in, perhaps they have an ongoing project such as a Comprehensive Plan revision, downtown or neighborhood planning/outreach project, etc., that interests you, that they could use help on. If you are willing to commit (I'd say more like 6 months than jsut a summer), it can be a great experience. Unfortunately, it's tough to get a paid internship - but I found for an unpaid internship I was able to approach different cities even though they weren't advertising an internship. It was a great way to get into the career once I graduated - without this experience, ti would have been very difficult to find my first job.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian ruralplanner's avatar
    Jul 2007
    Rural Midwest
    I would not worry about experience when applying for an internship. It is usually understood that undergrads will have little or no real world experience and that they are applying for the intership for that purpose. I have been involved in interviewing and selecting interns for quite some time now and there is definately a trend relative to who is selected for the position-- they are fun, creative, motivated, well spoken and above all are interested in planning.

    Fun = able to get along with co-workers / willing to go out after work, socialize, etc.

    Creative = able to apply learned skills (planning realated or not) to further the project.

    Motivated = we have had interns who just don't get into what they are doing and are here to satisfy a school requirment. So be motivated!

    Well spoken = how will the intern do with meeting facilitation / conflict management.

    Interested = always answer the question why a planner?

    If you can hit the nail on the head with the first four points in your cover letter and interview, the last point being intereted in planning will tip the balance in your favor.

    I recall on one occasion where we had interviewed a prospective intern and he hit the first four on the mark and then revealed that he wanted to get a degree in marketing. Umm... and why do you want to intern with us?

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Plus
    Jun 2003
    Ditto what nrschmid, bobcatplanner, ruralplanner said.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian tsc's avatar
    Oct 2002
    Under the Table
    Blog entries
    We hire interns with no experience and never expect them to have any. We just hired an intern back who did work for us before, but that is just a fluke. We base our hiring on their studies and how they interview. Exactly what ruralplanner said.

    Not sure where you want to work, but I often see internships posted on the nymetro apa website. We don't advertise our internships...we actually just get a bunch of resumes every year.

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