Internships in Utah, beyond share common threads

The BYU Career Studio helps students enhance their resume, cover letter and interviewing skills. (Hannah Miner)

Internships are a popular choice for many to enhance their resumes and gain work experience in their chosen field. Internship providers in Utah and beyond look for specific things in resumes, cover letters and interviews.

Hiring managers are tasked with hiring full-time employees and often interns as well. At times what they are looking for can differ between an intern and a full-time employee, according to Tracy Hernandez, the director of marketing and communications at Revere Health in Provo.

“We generally hire people who are later in their college career because it’s very much a position where we need people who are able to come in and hit the ground running,” Hernandez said.

She added the company has modified its screening process to ask what year an applicant is in school. She said Revere Health generally gives preference based on seniority.

“Not that we can’t train people and we can’t help them learn new things, but we do want them to come in with a level of experience in their field that will allow them to quickly pick up on the tasks that we need them to do,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez said in addition to class standing, she looks at the applicant’s experience, as she needs to know an applicant has applied course work outside of class. She said this experience doesn’t have to be paid work and can be done in other positions like volunteer or leadership roles.

Seeking an internship can be a lengthy process when trying to find something that fits a specific major and provides financial support. Some companies and organizations don’t pay interns for their work.

Hernandez said Revere Health chose to make their internship paid to recruit a better crop of candidates. She said she understands not everyone has the luxury to take the time to do an unpaid internship.

“Part of the reason for us that we have it be a paid position is that we’re asking them to do a lot of the same things that we ask our paid employees to do,” Hernandez said. “It doesn’t seem right to bring somebody in and have them do the same work and not get paid to do it.”

BYU Career Studio employee Courtney Walker helps a fellow student with her interviewing skills. (Hannah Miner)

Additionally, she said she sees more applications and more qualified candidates because of Revere Health’s competitive pay. She said if it came down to a candidate choosing between two different internships and hers pays and the other doesn’t, she thinks she will get the qualified candidate to come to her internship over the other. 

Hernandez said she reflects on her own internships when hiring for Revere Health internships. One particular internship she says she remembers doing was working for the Military and Foreign Affairs Office for former Sen. Bob Bennett.

She said she remembers others she was living with at the time going on coffee runs or picking up dry cleaning.

“I sat in all the hearings leading up to the Iraq invasion, and then I would prepare debriefs for the senator based on what I heard in the meeting — like, that was real, actual, legitimate work,” Hernandez said.

She said these experiences had a big impact on her and she wants to provide interns with work that is meaningful and applicable.

According to BYU’s Academic Internship Office, on average, only 30 percent of graduating seniors have job offers before graduation. However, the office noted that percentage rises to 50 percent after completing an internship.

The reasons vary as to why students and other working individuals choose to do an internship over a traditional part-time job.

BYU senior Lauren Schofield said she does internships because it enhances her resume. She said she has found part-time jobs available to college students tend be unrelated to what she wants to do for her career.

“Internships helped put me in environments that helped me decide what I wanted to do after graduation,” Schofield said. “If I hadn’t been placed in those environments, I wouldn’t have known what on earth I was going to do afterwards.”

Schofield, like many students, chose an unpaid internship over a paid internship.

“It was worth it, but it was hard financially. I gained experience from it that I didn’t have before, so I’m glad I did it,” Schofield said. “Now that I have so much experience with internships, I wouldn’t ever do an unpaid one again because I feel like I can get any paid internship that I want to do.”

Schofield is planning to graduate this spring and has completed four internships during her time at BYU, which gave her the confidence to apply for jobs. She said she knows she meets most of the qualifications hiring managers are seeking because of her internships.

“I feel like I’ve learned just as much in my internships as I’ve learned in school,” Schofield said.

Jayne Verhaaren Eyre completed five internships during her time at BYU and was offered a full-time job following the completion of her internship working at a public relations agency in New York City.

She said unpaid internships were worth it because of what she learned and the experience she gained. It was worth the risk of not having as much money to gain experience and expand her network, she said.

“My internships allowed me to narrow in exactly on which fields I was most interested in working in,” Eyre said. “I remember rolling my eyes at the suggestion of doing five internships before graduating, but I followed that advice and do not regret it.”

Eyre said her internships have allowed her to push herself outside her comfort zone and to take on responsibilities she may have shied away from before.

“I believe internships allow you to dip into different elements of work rather than being pigeon-holed into one role as often happens in part-time and full-time work,” Eyre said.  “I feel that I got more opportunities to work one-on-one with experts in the field and shadow them as they carried out their day-to-day tasks.”

New York City can be a popular destination for many students seeking experience on the East Coast, according to Business Insider. Rachel Quada is the office manager at a public relations agency called Thatcher+Co located in Times Square. There she oversees the hiring of interns.

A student works on her resume in the BYU Career Studio. (Hannah Miner)

Quada said Thatcher+Co decided the company wanted to pay their interns from the beginning. Many applicants apply from out of state, she said, and it’s a sacrifice to move to an unfamiliar city. Offering pay can ease that transition. Additionally, she said it can help remind interns why they are there.

“Being paid for your work adds a level of ownership and responsibility,” Quada said. “This isn’t just so you can check off the box and get closer to graduation. You have actual duties and expectations, and paying helps interns remember that.”

While interns benefit from the experience of working for an organization, the company can also benefit from adding interns to a team for a semester or longer, according to Quada.

“Generally, interns are still in school and really invested in the passion of why they’ve chosen a particular industry and are eager to learn,” Quada said. “Working with interns brings that passion and energy for the industry back into your day to day and is a great reminder of why you are doing what you are doing.”

Quada said she goes through a lot of applications and interviews each semester. Her biggest advice when applying to and interviewing for an internship is to prepare. She said researching the company and having questions can go a long way.

“Don’t assume you’re going to get the internships; know that you are in a giant pool of applicants, and interviewers can be as picky as they choose to be,” Quada said. “The best interns do their prep work and are prepared. Your interviewers have done this many times and can quickly discern which interviewees will make good interns.”

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