Internship Experience Essays

Internships are the cherries on top of the resume sundae. They can make any student stand out to colleges, future employers, and boyfriends’ parents (just as a cherry stands out to a starving young child in a brightly colored ice cream store, or excuse me, froyo—the new trend).

Internships are quickly becoming essential for any job and can offer a lot of experience to students hoping to get ahead. But how can you get the most out of yours? Well I personally learned six, yes, six, things on my own internship experience.

1. Speak up: Many times I would be sitting at my isolated desk with endless questions about what I was supposed to be doing. I was completely paralyzed in my chair because I was too afraid to walk around or bother anyone. I rarely moved from my desk the first few weeks, but I would have been much more efficient and happier if I had gotten up, asked my questions, and got back to work.

If you need help, just ask! It’s much easier than planning out a route to your boss’s cubicle, writing out a specific dialogue, and rehearsing it ten times. (True story).

2. Take on as much as you can: In the entire two months I was at my internship working for a newspaper, I only wrote three articles. I don’t know what the normal standards are for interns at publications, but I think I could have done more. I wish I would have asked for more work and when I was asked to contribute another article, I should have said yes.

Remember that the more you do, the more you have to show for the experience when you’re looking for another internship or, gulp, a job.

3. Work hard: This is an obvious one, but don’t waste time. You’re there to work, and they didn’t have to give you this opportunity. Make the most of your time and theirs.

4. Mimic your coworkers: I do not mean to play that game and repeat everything they say just to annoy them. I mean watch how they interact, how they talk, how they dress, and their repeated habits. For example, if you notice that everyone is always on time and takes punctuality seriously, you darn well better be there at 9:00 a.m. sharp, or earlier. You can learn a lot about office etiquette procedures from the ones who have been there for twenty years.

5. Talk with your coworkers: Coworkers have a lot of experience and they have obviously made it in that particular field. Ask them how they got this far and what advice they have for you. You could learn a lot and get some great ideas.

6. Be thankful: The best thing to do is send a handwritten note thanking them for the experience and opportunity to work with them. It’ll leave them with good thoughts about you and you can most likely refer to them for a recommendation later.

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Student Internship Experiences

Courtney | Evan | Lou | Murya | Taylor

Courtney's story

Major: Bachelor of Science Geography
Minor: Renewable Energy
Graduated: 2012
Organization: Bureau of Land Management
Paid: Yes

My internship at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) started in August 2011 and lasts for a year, with the opportunity to continue in the position if I continue to meet expectations and the funds are available. In the BLM’s, Geographic Sciences Department, I was expected to apply my knowledge of ArcGIS to solve problems, make corrections, and compose maps based on the project I was assigned. My supervisor would brief me with a project that was being worked on and assign me to a specific task; from there I would work on it until completion. Project durations ranged from an hour, to a few days, to even over the course of a month. There is another intern who I can rely on for help as well as a few other co-workers in the department who would often help me if I ran into any issues. As an intern, I was also pulled onto jobs in the Cadastral Land Survey Department. This usually required working in the field with Tremble GPS units to record data on sections, townships, and ranges. For this type of work I would travel to the location and stay to work from 5-8 days depending on the project.

How did this prepare you for next professional endeavor?
This experience is preparing me in a number of ways from office etiquette, to working with deadlines, to gaining knowledge from hands on training. I have learned how a government office operates, who oversees what, and how to network with the different departments I've been exposed to. In the future I will be well prepared to embrace deadlines and make sure that I'm applying myself in the best manner to complete the project. Lastly, the most valuable experience has been the hands on work I've been exposed to. I've been able to able the information learned in university courses to real life problems and truly understand the programs and tools that aid in the professional world.

Advice to future interns
For future interns, always express passion about the jobs you're given. While a lot of the work is "busy work," you're an intern and that is what you're there for, so at least put a smile on your face because that's what your boss is looking for. Even if you feel a question you have or problem may be dumb, still consult with someone because it will show your willingness to learn. An network and talk with the people in your office, you never know when an opportunity may arise outside of your cubicle, so knowing people will help you move up the career ladder.


Evan's story

Major: Bachelor of Science Mining Engineering
Expected Graduation: December 2014
Organization: Barrick Gold Corporation
Paid: Yes

My internship was in the technical services department for Barrick Gold at the Cortez Hills underground mine from May to August 2013. My summer project was to work in the short range planning department and determine the technical limits for the three primary pieces of mining equipment on site. The engineers I worked with for during the summer treated me as a fellow engineer from the first day I arrived. This also came with the responsibility of producing quality work in a timely manner while continuing to work to company standards. This was an excellent experience for my first position working at an underground mine. It forced me to work along many different kinds of engineers while working with the operations crews. Barrick provided excellent training that allowed me to produce excellent work while maintaining constant vigilance for hazard recognition. I was also asked to present my work for the engineering crew, mine management and operations crews.

How did this prepare you for next professional endeavor?
I gained an in-depth understanding of the culture and dedication to safety of a world class mining company. Experience like this has allowed myself to work to a higher standard and to care for the individuals I work with. This internship also gave me an exposure to numerous design software that engineers use together to maintain a successful operation. I learned many aspects of mining that can’t be taught and this internship also forced me to become very comfortable giving technical presentations to large groups of people.

Advice to future interns
The most difficult part of engineering is accepting the fact that no one knows everything. Successful engineers use all available resources available to produce valuable work. Become comfortable working in team settings because that is how successful organizations work. Always be aware of your surroundings and don’t be afraid to ask questions.


Lou's story

Major: Geography
Minor: Computer Science
Graduated: 2012
Organization: Bureau of Land Management
Paid: Yes

One of the more rewarding things about this experience has been the ability to apply things that I learned in some of my classes at UNR directly to the job here at BLM. Not just the fact that we use the exact same GIS software here as we learned on in class, but many of the real world applications of that software are directly related to things we studied in my UNR Geography classes. Recently I was tasked with georeferencing some images. That is, aligning the images with real world reference points so they can be accurately layered into a GIS. We learned the exact process in class so I already knew how to accomplish it and that was exciting. Another great aspect of working here has been the flexibility. I have a weekly hourly goal that I need to meet, usually about fifteen hours a week during a semester, and the BLM allows me to meet that goal on my schedule. If I need a day off to work on homework or write a paper, I can easily take a day off to do so and make up the time when I an available. Additionally during the summer and on winter break they allow me to work up to forty hours a week as well.

How did this prepare you for next professional endeavor?
First of all I think the people I have met and worked with here are some of the most respected GIS professionals in the industry so the fact that I have received some training from them will, I think, be a great asset for me moving forward. Second, the BLM is such a large organization that I am exposed to an incredible wealth of learning opportunities. From general professional training to conferences to industry specific technical training there is a constant opportunity to learn here, and just as important, it is encouraged.

Advice to future interns
I think it's important to realize that no one expects you to have all of the answers when you start a job. But they do expect you to consistently come to work, be on time, and demonstrate a willingness to work hard and to eventually discover those answers. And if you show that you are also willing to learn, people will respect you even more.


Murya's story

Major: Geology & Hydrogeology
Minor: Chemistry
Graduated: 2013
Organization: Nevada Division of Minerals
Paid: Yes

I traveled across the state to collect field data on abandoned mine features throughout Nevada and secure those found to be hazardous by constructing T-post and barbed wire fences. Every week, starting Monday, 6 of the 8 of us interns drive out to our designated destination for the week. From there, we log, secure, and revisit abandoned mines. This entails reading a GPS and topographic maps, driving off-road, and hiking up mountains, followed by sleeping under the stars. On Friday's we finish up our work and head back to the office where we plot our findings and upload all pictures and GPS Information.

How did this prepare you for next professional endeavor?
This internship prepared me to work in a team and taught me of the fulfillments that accompany a hard day of work in the field. It provided me with essential map reading skills and instilled in me a new-found enjoyment in, not only the geologic sciences, but mining as well.

Advice to future interns
The best way to be successful in this internship is to work well in a team and to develop a broad network of contacts by joining clubs and to just get your name out there in a positive way. Be yourself and be excited about being a part of the amazing community that the Mackay School of Earth Sciences provides.


Taylor's story

Major: Metallurgical Engineering
Expected Graduation: Spring 2015
Organization: Newmont Mining Company
Paid: Yes

This summer I worked out at the Midas mine, which is a small underground vein operation nearing the end of its mine life. On a daily basis, I spent time learning the mill circuit directly from operators and maintenance. I even spent a week working inside of the refinery, learning how to prepare a flux for a gold/silver pour. Overall, I learned many of the nuances of the mill--from the ground up.

How did this prepare you for next professional endeavor?
One of the most valuable things I have learned at Midas was the importance of communication. Positive and routine communication can make such a difference in the workplace. It definitely leads to greater gold recovery, but beyond that, it also leads to better relationships between managers, co-workers, and contractors.

Advice to future interns
Something I always try to do is to stay enthusiastic, be open-minded, have fun, learn something new, and take something positive away from work. Every single day.


For more information contact:
Katia P. Albright, M.A., GCDF
Coordinator of Career Development
LME313c
775-682-8370
kalbright@unr.edu

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