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A Q&A with Natalie Chambers: Internship Coordinator

What is your role in the internship office?

My job title is internship coordinator and my role for the office is to help students prepare themselves for internships through preparing resumes, portfolios, cover letters and so forth. We also try to make communications students aware of internship opportunities through our weekly internship email and job site.

Our main role as an internship office is to make sure students are registering in an appropriate fashion. You can’t do an internship for graduation without being registered. Making sure they follow the procedure in the appropriate order is essential for the internship to count and that is something students frequently do not understand.

Our office primarily handles internship registration, following up with course assignments and corresponding with the faculty to make sure students are up to date on their work. We also ensure that there are no situations going on in the internship that are going to compromise the students’ safety or their professional experience. There is a certain standard of excellence that we expect from our interns and from our internship providers and it’s my role to ensure that that standard is met.

What services are offered in the internship office?

We review and critique resumes, portfolios and cover letters. We also have many useful resources available on our website. We offer a mentor program where about 300 mentors who are graduates or friends of the program have opted-in to provide a mentoring experience for our students. We facilitate international internships that collaborate with the Kennedy Center, such as the one in Frankfurt with LDS Public Affairs. We have the New York Internship Program which is similar to a program abroad except it is in New York. We offer classes and activities for the group instead of an individual setting. We also send a faculty member with the New York Internship students to facilitate the learning experience.

Do you feel that the office is under-utilized?

Yes, very much so. We are becoming busier with student traffic, the majority of which is general questions about internships and how to find an internship, but we’ve had a resume critique sign-up in the upstairs office for about two weeks and no one has signed up. There are about 30 slots on it. It just blows me away that people don’t use what we have to offer. We recently had a professional recruiter come in from Edelman and some of the resumes that were submitted to him were less than mediocre. I don’t know if students are aware of their resources and just opt-out of using them, or if they think their materials were sufficient as-is. It’s hard to see the service we provide go unused. We’re here to help and I wish students would come to us sooner and more frequently.

If you had to share one statement with the students reading this, what would you share?

The initial thought that comes to my mind is to be professional in all correspondence and interactions that you have with people in your field. Also, always get multiple opinions on application materials because you never know who you’re submitting your materials to. If you get a lot of feedback from a variety of people, then you can take what feedback you like and produce a resume and portfolio that you’re very proud of (and it will appeal to a broader audience). That is something that will help you in your application to internships or jobs. By having a professional and appealing presence on your resume and portfolio and through your interactions, you will speak volumes more so than your GPA or coursework.