Research, Preparation Key to Getting Internships

Research, Preparation Key to Getting Internships. (Photo: Thinkstock)

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Students looking to land an internship should first make sure they’re prepared by doing background research on the company or organization they hope to work for, according to a career development manager in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

Having a clear understanding of what a company or organization is and what it does not only helps students be prepared for an interview, it also helps students stand out from the competition and be more marketable to hire, said Adam Cahill, who works in the college’s Career Development Center.

“The most common thing that we hear from companies that is frustrating to the internship or job hiring process is when a student isn’t prepared and asks during the interview, ‘What does your company do?’ ” Cahill said. “You have to do your research so that you can have an intelligent conversation with the company in order to create some good connection points between yourself and the company.

“Companies are looking for students who can articulate their experiences and education and how it can fit with the skillset the company is looking for.”

That’s just one tip Cahill has for students as they navigate their future careers. Internships are important for students because it helps them gain experience and is an opportunity for them to put the knowledge and skills they’ve gained in college to practical use in real-world settings, he said.

“Internships are a great way for students to figure out what they like and don’t like in a potential career and to find out where they will find a good fit for themselves in the future,” Cahill said. “Internships give students and the companies the opportunity to try each other out and can increase the student’s potential for full-time employment.

“Many students end up getting full-time job opportunities for after graduation through an internship.”

The CFAES career development office hosts five career fairs annually, four held on the Columbus campus throughout the year and one held at ATI in fall. General career expos are held in October and February, with a construction career expo also held in October and an environmental and sustainability career expo held in January.

Employers look for future employees and interns during the career expo events, Cahill said.

His other tips for students seeking internships — which can be over the summer or at other times of the year — include: 

  • Think about what you want to do with your career early on.
  • Do background research on the types of jobs you may be interested in.
  • Network by joining a club or organization in the career field you are interested in. Oftentimes the clubs or organizations bring in industry speakers.
  • Attend career fairs and the college’s new Employers on Campus program where students can get resume help and participate in mock interviews with companies.
  • Register with Hireabuckeye, which lists jobs and internship opportunities, at
  • Utilize faculty advisers who may be aware of job opportunities through word-of-mouth.
  • Search LinkedIn for potential internships.

Students also need to understand that finding an internship can take some time and effort, Cahill said.

“There is a lot of competition for internships, so students need to do what they can to make sure they put their best foot forward by doing their research and be able to articulate how they can best fit with that company’s needs,” he said. “All students in the college complete an internship or have a capstone experience before they graduate.

“It’s all about making yourself more versed and experienced in your field so you can make yourself more marketable as a candidate for a full-time job.”

Tracy Turner
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Adam Cahill