Opinion letters to the editor

Freshmen internships: a bit elusive, but not impossible (and not all there is!)

Last week, The Tech ran a piece near and dear to the hearts of all of us at MIT’s Career Services: In search of an elusive freshmen internship by Zachary Collins.

Zach’s article honestly describes the challenges freshmen face trying to find an internship for the summer before their sophomore year. We were very heartened to read that xFair wasn’t a bust for him, even if it didn’t result in an internship. Despite not satisfying a short term goal, Zach made progress towards a long term one. Hopefully his story encourages more students to attend our upcoming Spring Career Fair, as well as other fairs being offered this semester.

It’s true that companies tend to hire more upperclassmen, but the data we collect suggests that the number of rising sophomores who get industry internships might be higher than you think. Of the 467 rising sophomores who responded to the 2013 Summer Experience Survey, 46 percent reported having worked in an internship, 51 percent reported work in a research lab and 3 percent reported other activities such as public service or travel. Be sure to check out the 2015 survey results later this spring semester.

More and more employers are learning that developing earlier relationships with college students is in their best interest. We remind them of this whenever we can. We emailed thousands of recruiters this IAP to encourage them to hire freshmen, and as a result more freshmen-friendly internships are now in our database, CareerBridge. Students can search with “freshmen” as a keyword to check them out.

Another way we promote freshmen to employers is F/ASIP, the Freshmen/Alumni Summer Internship Program. For almost 20 years, we’ve taught freshmen (like Zach!) the skills they need to find great opportunities, while working with companies to develop more freshmen-friendly internships for all freshmen.

MIT alumni are a great resource. We encourage our F/ASIP class — and all freshmen — to use the Alumni Association’s Institute Career Assistance Network (ICAN) or LinkedIn’s alumni tool to find alumni and connect with them for informational interviews.

We also recommend students really take advantage of CareerBridge, including opting in to internship alert emails and setting up job agents. The CareerBridge software is getting dated (and is being updated), but the jobs and resources in it are invaluable. We’re available to answer any questions you might have about CareerBridge via email (gecd@mit.edu), and if you want to talk about your job search or career you can always come to our drop-in hours or schedule an appointment.

OK, one last pitch. Worst case scenario, you can’t find an internship; there’s still plenty of useful, resume-building stuff you can do! UROPs are a great way to get experience, and so are MIT’s vast range of international opportunities. Recruiters often tell us they are impressed by students who go abroad.

This is where the “Global Education” part of GECD comes in. Our global advisors can help you find interesting things to do all over the world. You can start by checking out goglobal.mit.edu, and you can email globalmit@mit.edu to make an appointment.

The freshman internship can feel elusive, but MIT has so much to offer. Sometimes the trick is just getting the right help. Our job is to do everything we can to help MIT students, so we hope you’ll come and see us. Maybe we can help you out — you’ll never know unless you stop by GECD, right?

Scott Murray, Digital Communications Specialist & Career Advisor

Tamara Menghi, Associate Director for Employer Relations

MIT Global Education & Career Development