By Eileen Ly
Don’t you ever miss those long, lazy summers when you were young and carefree?
When summer vacation actually meant no work whatsoever?
Don’t you ever miss the guilt-free time you had where you got to lay around on the couch, marathon tv series in days, play video games all night long, read all the books you ever wanted to, spend all your time browsing the internet, sleep till noon every day, hang out with your friends, go on fun (or dreaded) family vacations, and complain about how bored you were?
Sigh. I do.
But, I really enjoy my internship at the same time. Currently, I’m working a full-time paid internship at Asian Americans for Community Involvement, a multi-service non profit organization in Santa Clara County. There, I’m working to help implement Electronic Health Record systems (EHR) for the clinics and programs.
For those of you who are curious, this was my first paid work experience; I had had a long list of unpaid volunteer experiences. To help offset traveling costs and academic expenses, I receive a stipend from Health Career Connections, a large nonprofit organization that offers internship placements, networking opportunities, and career workshops.
As for how my internship experience went, I would highly recommend this experience, as I learned how to network with various healthcare professionals and build my own confidence through independent projects and strong mentoring. The most challenging part of the job was finding my own voice and persona in the workplace, as not just an intern but as a leader. I feel as if I was able to mature and grow this entire summer, and I wish all of you, no matter what you choose to do this summer, will be able to achieve the same sense of satisfaction and growth I experienced this past summer.
And so, I hope you’ll find this article/masterpost to be of use in your summer search. To make some things easier, I’ll be splitting this post into 3 key components: Before the Application/ Application, The Interview/After the Interview, and The Job.
Therefore, this post will be Part 1: Before the Application/ The Application.
I’ll be talking about searching for opportunities, figuring out interests, and offering some application pointers. It’ll be a bit of a long post, but I’ll break it down into doable steps as I have with my other posts to make it easier for you guys to read. Along the way, I’ll be adding in examples from how I came to work at AACI over the summer and other personal comments/tips. I’ll be marking my experiences with an EX) so you can feel free to read ahead if you’d like.
Before the Application:
Know your time frame during the summer.
If you’re planning on doing other things during the summer, you need to know how much time you want to spend every day at your job. This will help you determine whether you want a full-time or part-time job, and for how long during the summer. Come up with backup plans in case you don’t get a job. Like volunteer work or personal goals.
Ex) During the Fall Quarter of 2013, I set a goal to keep my summer entirely free to either get a paid full-time internship, volunteer at clinics, shadow doctors, or learn how to drive on the freeway!
Research opportunities based off career or personal interests.
Taking the time to sit down and do some research will really help you in the long run in terms of finding out what you want to do. Browse the internet. Even if you don’t know what you want to do, you should still apply for opportunities that will broaden your experiences, develop leadership skills, allow you to network with professionals and coworkers, and/or gain new skills. This may be off the side jobs like taking wedding photos or something. The key is growth. To be productive and successful, you need to actively thinking of where you want to be in the future or what kind of professional you’d like to be.
“Where should I start?” “Is there anything at Davis that could help me?” The answer is YES. UC Davis has an extremely extensive Internship and Career Center (ICC) with great resources like the Aggie Job Link (job search engine for UC Davis students and alumni) and more links on how to find an internship.
Here’s a map of where ICC is located for those of you interested:
For those of you interested in hospital volunteering or clinical internships in general, ICC also has a health-related internships site.
Ex) I spent a good part of my early Winter Quarter just looking for things to apply to and then applying to them. I had only recently decided I was pre-med after attending the annual UC Davis Pre-Medical and Pre-Health Professions National Conference. Because I was undecided about life after college, I highly recommend the conference to anyone who is interested in or passionate about healthcare and/or students who are unsure about career paths in healthcare.
Being pre-med, I was looking for experiences that would help me gain a better understanding of the healthcare field and further develop my interests in medicine. This was not limited to settings like hospitals or clinics. (Although I was dreaming of it.) I had to keep a really open mind as to what experiences I wanted, since lots of clinical research, hospital shadowing, student-run clinic volunteer positions are all really competitive to get into. Wanting to help other students find out more about Davis while developing my writing skills is why I’m here writing up this blog for my fellow Aggies. :)
The opportunity that got me my summer internship was Health Career Connection, a large nonprofit internship placement program. I first learned about HCC through a facebook post on the UC Davis Jobs and Internship Page, and decided to apply to the program. CHECK IT OUT! Especially if you’re looking to build networking skills and are into public health policy. :) The staff there is amazing, and HCC offers workshops on how to find a successful career, grad school planning, and workplace skills.
Read the application really WELL.
Whether it’s an online or offline application, know what is expected of you (professional or casual, types of tasks you’re doing), and what you need to turn in with your application (resume, cover letters, letters of recommendation). Pay attention to EVERYTHING. THE SMALLEST GRAMMAR/ SPELLING MISTAKE COULD POSSIBLY RUIN YOUR CHANCE. This goes big time for really competitive positions. I really can’t stress this enough, and your writing professor can’t either.
Prepare your materials and self ahead of deadline.
I know it. You know it. It’s not just bacon we have to prepare for; it’s life. We’re procrastinators and this is the hardest thing to do ever when you’re also a full-time student. But, might as well start practicing for when you have a job and get to work on being productive. You’ll want to give yourself a lot of time to write, edit, and get feedback on your materials. The Internship and Career Center has perfect resources for this type of stuff. They have workshops and people who are paid to help you edit your resume and finetune your interviewing skills. BE SURE TO USE THIS AMAZING RESOURCE! (It’s part of your tuition money!)
Ex) I spent a lot of my time just formatting and editing my resume during fall and winter quarter 2012. I went to the Student Community Center, where a resume specialist from ICC was there to help me. I asked some of my housemates to help me proofread and edit. I looked up examples of resumes, cover letters, and curriculum vitae. I’m a pretty big procrastinator but whenever I got tired of homework, I’d go ahead and look up resumes, job applications, and plan classes. (It’s procrastinating but in a good proactive way.) Probably not the best tip during midterms or finals but hey, I’m trying to improve.
APPLY!!! Sit down, and start getting your application done! Probably the most important step ever. I believe in you. :) Treat this time as much as you’d treat a job or internship. And then go reward yourself!
Ex) One thing I like to do if I’m applying for several things is to create a separate word doc where I’ll put down: position title, application deadline, expectations, setting, goals for why I want to do this position, things to turn in with my application (resume, transcript, letters of recommendation), and a link so I can just click it later. This way, I get organized about what I need to turn in and why I’m doing the position. This can also help you determine which positions you would like the most, in case you get into all of them. ;)
The most important thing to be successful and happy is to go forward with intent. Use the resources you have to move forward, even if it’s just a small step. Use the long summer months as a chance to grow and adapt, so you can make yourself a competitive applicant for other opportunities like hard-to-get internships, grad school, med school, etc. Along the way, you’ll find out things about yourself that you never knew, or even figure out what you really really want to do.
IF YOU STILL HAVE QUESTIONS/WOULD LIKE FURTHER DETAILS:
Please feel free to submit an ask to Aggie Voices about any questions or requests you may have (aka: Health Career Connections, Asian Americans for Community Involvement, ICC internships, pre-med stuff in general, student-run clinics, Pre-Health Conference and more). Plus, if I forgot to mention something, which I probably did, LET ME KNOW. Or if you have other helpful tips and stuff, ALSO LET ME KNOW!!
STAY TUNED FOR PT. 2: The Interview!