Today’s internships are paving the way for eager students to begin exciting careers—connecting young people to the workforce like never before. And the very best interns are often liberal arts grads.
If you’ve earned a liberal arts education, you’ve developed the “soft skills” career industry insiders love. These typically include strong communication, problem solving, critical thinking, and adaptability skills. Along with your specialized studies this qualifies you for a wide range of internships—from government agencies to non-profits, universities, hospitals, and research facilities.
Read on to learn how the right research, support, and liberal arts education can prepare you for the rewarding internship of your dreams.
Network With Other Liberal Arts College Grads
The first step is choosing what field you’d like to explore, and researching possible openings in your favourite places or organizations. Your school administrators can offer some direction, and there are plenty of resources available for you to explore.
A great trick is to search your school’s alumni on LinkedIn, and see if any have jobs you’d like to try. Reach out! They’ll be happy to hear what you’re up to and pass on any tips. You might also consider sending out an open Tweet that says “I want to get an internship for a meaningful non-profit. Does anyone know somebody I should talk to?” Networking through your liberal arts connections can offer some great leads.
Consider the Legal and Financial Factors of Internships
Some of the best internships might not be able to pay you for your time, and that’s ok. Studies show more than half of all American internships are unpaid. But these may shrink your options by location or financial feasibility, and can also involve certain legal grey areas.
Graduates of humanities programs know that workers’ rights are an important tenet of a fair and equal society. The labor industry is just now getting up to scratch when it comes to fair internships.
Recent years have seen a flood of class action lawsuits filed by unpaid interns across the career spectrum, who faced wage and labor exploitation by employers from Harper’s Bazaar to PBS to the set of “Black Swan.” This has inspired new Federal policy on unpaid internships. It’s important to look for internships that comply; valuing your time and offering educational experiences beyond fetching coffee.
If you find an amazing (albeit unpaid or underpaid) internship, you can also look into the Shimer Internship Program, which awards summer stipends for internships across the country. Recent recipients have interned in a variety of exciting places—from the Cognitive Neuroscience and Alzheimer’s Disease Center here in Chicago to the International Bird Rescue Research Center in the San Francisco Bay.
Money can’t stand in the way of your goals when you’re aware of industry standards and available support.
Craft Applications to Showcase Your Liberal Arts Education
Once you’ve connected with an agency or organization that seems just right, you’ll need to send along your resume. If you craft an application around a top-notch liberal arts education, you’re sure to impress employers and land an interview.
The best applicants highlight their passion for learning by featuring their degree front and center on their resume and asking intelligent questions during the interview. This shows employers that along with four years of intense study, you’ve devoted time to learning about their specific field.
If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try Again
For one reason or another, the internship you pursue might not be able to accommodate you. Rejection is a part of the process, and it only brings you closer to your perfect fit. Don’t be discouraged—to get an amazing internship, you have to be persistent. With the right research, support, and a great education, nothing can stop you.
Are you interested in pursuing a BA degree in liberal arts? Visit Shimer for more information or to speak with an advisor.