Finding a Great Internship, Part 1

From one college student to another, follow these steps over spring break to find the internship of your dreams.

AQHA intern Annise Montplaisir interviews champion owners at the 2014 AQHA Racing Champions ceremony. Journal photo.

AQHA intern Annise Montplaisir interviews champion owners at the 2014 AQHA Racing Champions ceremony. Journal photo.

By Annise Montplaisir, spring 2015 AQHA intern

With spring break upon us, I have no doubt that school and anything remotely relating to the topic is the last thing on the minds of most college students. However, if you’re pondering the idea of applying for an internship, there’s no time like the present to begin researching and exploring your options. I’d like to lend you a bit of insight I’ve gained from my own internship experience here at AQHA to guide you in your search.

Research the requirements for your major.

Some majors require you to complete an internship, while others do not. I am majoring in management communication and international studies with a minor in Spanish, and I am not required to do an internship. If you have an academic adviser at your school or university, schedule a meeting to talk through your required classes and whether or not an internship is required for you to graduate and, if so, what type of internship. Some schools are very specific about the internships that qualify. I have met far too many college students who don’t utilize the guidance of their adviser. Advisers are there to help you weigh the logistics of making a big decision, such as applying for an internship.

Even if an internship is not a requirement for your major, don’t rule out the possibility of doing one anyways. They offer many character- and resume-building benefits that you won’t get from working at a regular college student-type job, like the campus dining center or coffee shop.

Know what you want from your internship.

Just as you should have specific skills to offer the company or organization you intern with, you should know what you want to get from the internship. The obvious objective is to gain skills that will be applicable to your future career, but I’m actually referring to college credit and paychecks.

Not all internships are the same. Depending on the type of internship and the company or organization it is offered through, you might or might not get paid. Some internships offer college credit as the sole form of compensation, while others will pay you for your work. Still others might pay for housing but don’t pay wages or offer college credit. No matter how you go about it, an internship is still a great opportunity to build your resume.

AQHA offers paid internship positions in the spring, summer and fall – plus you can get college credit!

Keep an open mind

Just because your major isn’t equine-related doesn’t mean your internship can’t be horse-related. When people ask me about my major, they’re often surprised to find out it has nothing to do with horses. There are numerous careers in the horse industry that don’t require you to have majored in an equine-related field: journalist, customer service representative, translator, sales rep, marketing professional, barn manager … the list goes on. These often-overlooked careers are important to the horse industry.

I have met numerous students who aspire toward a horse-related career, but they believe becoming a horse trainer or a vet are their only options. Don’t be afraid to break out of your bubble and try something different. If you love talking to people, you could be a sales representative for a horse feed company. If you’re great photographer, there are numerous horse magazines you could work for. (AQHA publishes The American Quarter Horse Journal, America’s Horse and The Q-Racing Journal!)

Having second thoughts about your internship? If you’re concerned that your new internship isn’t your cup of tea, maintain the mindset that you’re gaining fantastic career experience. Plus, you’ll be one step closer to finding your dream job!

In Part 2 of Finding a Great Internship I’ll give you advice on how to make the most of your internship experience.