UM Students Boost Resumes Through Virtual Internships
Revamped internship, job prep course offered for students in second fall session
OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Internship Experience Program is offering an eight-week online course this fall for students from any major wanting to learn skills that employers will be looking for after graduation.
The one-hour course, EDHE 320: Internship Exploration, will be offered online in the second fall term from Oct.12 to Nov. 24. It will guide students through effective internship and job search strategies, including applying for virtual and remote internship options, resume writing, creating LinkedIn profiles, interview techniques and learning to communicate professionally.
The course is an opportunity to provide students continuity during this time of uncertainty about their future careers, said Laura Antonow, the director of college programs in the UM Division of Outreach and Continuing Education.
“This class will be great for juniors and seniors because it will give students an option to move forward with their academic and career life, regardless of what is going on with COVID,” she said.
Now, more than ever, a new set of professional skills is needed to navigate the remote work environment that so many are encountering during the pandemic.
Students enrolled in the course will learn more about how to work remotely, yet in a team, as well as how to manage their professional time and how to stay on task in a virtual world, Antonow said.
This past spring, UM Internship Experience Program students were preparing to travel to Atlanta, New York and Washington, D.C., when word came that most businesses, organizations and departments where students had secured internship positions were closing due to COVID-19.
Program staff and students began looking for other ways to participate in these crucial career training and learning experiences. For some students, this happened virtually.
Delaney Brennan, a senior integrated marketing communications major, was a part of the summer 2020 Internship Experience Program and was set to intern in New York City with Wanderlust travel magazine. She was excited to work as a curator for its online and social media presence.
“I heard about the position, and that the editor was well-known for building good writers,” Brennan said. “This internship seemed like a perfect fit for me and a great boost for my resume.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic hit New York, Brennan realized her dreams of spending the summer in the Big Apple wouldn’t be happening.
“I didn’t want to give up this great opportunity, so I worked with my supervisor to see how I could still intern, but complete my work online,” she said.
Brennan logged in each day from her family home in Knoxville, Tennessee. She had Zoom meetings with her supervisor, who was working from Dubai this summer.
“There were some late nights and early morning meetings because staff members were working all over the world, but I think that added to the energy,” she said.
Brennan had opportunities to research and write articles that were published on the magazine’s social media sites. She also assisted in planning social media posts on topics such as travel trends during the pandemic, popular RV vacations and more.
“I definitely learned to hone my work ethic through this internship,” Brennan remarked. “Since I wasn’t physically in an office with my co-workers, I had to learn to set daily times to write, research, attend meetings and other tasks.”
Courtney Brown, a senior majoring in studio art at Ole Miss, also thought she would be heading to New York City this summer to intern in graphic design with Spin magazine. After the COVID-19 outbreak hit, Brown went home to Coldwater.
“It actually worked out to my advantage to be able to participate in this internship virtually because it also gave me time for a part-time job,” Brown said. “So, I could get the career experience, but also earn money through my local job.”
Brown said she learned more about working independently through this internship as she designed digital newsletters for magazine subscribers.
“I learned to communicate better and be more flexible,” she said. “I learned to put extra thought into my correspondence online and to try to explain things without being overbearing. That was a good lesson.”
The course offered this fall will also help students learn to pitch a virtual internship to a potential employer, said Kristina Phillips, assistant director of college programs in the Division of Outreach.
“It will be a win for everyone if we can help students and employers imagine what a virtual internship could be,” she said.
“We will help prospective employers envision how students can benefit them, even remotely. There are so many great reasons for doing this now.”
Virtual internships are also a good choice financially for students, said Gabby Coggin, coordinator of the Internship Experience Program.
“It can cut down on travel and housing costs, but still offers students an opportunity to see what work in their chosen profession can be like day-to-day.”
Students interested in the course can register through MyOleMiss. For more information, visit http://outreach.olemiss.edu/internships/.
By Pam Starling