Internships are crucial for students who need to decide on a career field and/or prepare for a successful entry-level job search after graduation. English majors are strongly encouraged to seek out internship opportunities throughout their undergraduate career as a way of exploring different professional environments (e.g., corporate settings, non-profit organizations, and government agencies) and different jobs available within those environments. Remember, you may think you know what an editor, copywriter, human resources director, and lawyer do, but once you've seen them at work on a daily basis, you may realize that your idea of what they do and what they do are actually quite different. This is why internships are so helpful. They give you an opportunity to check out a career field without requiring that you devote yourself to it permanently.
Ohio State English majors have found internships across the Columbus area and throughout the country. They have interned with the communications teams at Nationwide and the American Red Cross, The Late Show with Jimmy Fallon, the development and marketing offices in the university's College of Dentistry and the Guggenheim Museum, the English as a Second Language program in the Ohio State College of Education and Human Ecology, the newsroom and production teams at WOSU NPR News and TV, and the writing and editorial staffs at 614 Magazine and Lucky Magazine, to name just a few.
An internship should help you accomplish two goals: (1) to find out if a career field, job, or organization is a good fit for you and (2) to ensure you have experience in a professional setting that will help you land a full-time job at graduation. Remember, as an intern, you are very unlikely to have a job that exactly replicates the job you want to have after you graduate. If your internship is actually the job you want to do full time (e.g., writing web content if you want to do communications), then that's great--but even more importantly, you are there to check out the jobs of the organization’s full-time employees. Nearly all internships will require you to perform some administrative tasks like making copies, filing, answering phones, and filling the coffee pot. You may not like all these tasks, and that’s perfectly fine. What really matters is whether you find the jobs of the other people in the office interesting and potentially good fits for you in the future.
Students often have work experience in the retail and restaurant industries prior to coming to Ohio State, and many need to continue working in these areas to cover their college and living expenses. Retail and restaurant jobs are terrific ways for students to hone their customer service skills and their ability to work with diverse personalities in a high-stress, fast-paced environment. The most recent of these experiences should definitely be included on students' resumes. That said, students are likely to increase their chances of securing full-time employment after graduation if they also have at least one or two internship or work experiences in a professional, office-based setting. This doesn't mean that students need to give up their paying retail or restaurant jobs in favor of a lower paid or unpaid internship; it just means that they may need to be willing to devote 5 - 7 hours a week during a given semester or summer term to an internship that will bridge the gap between their current retail/restaurant work and the full-time professional job they want after graduation.
We recognize that students are likely to find it diffcult to juggle a full courseload, paid retail/restaurant work, and an internship. This is why the English department offers academic credit for internships that provide students' with professional experience. Students may earn upper-level credit toward their English major for internships and other professional experiences so long as they secure pre-approval of the internships from the department.
Note also that there are a number of jobs for students on campus that will provide them with experience in an office or professional setting. For example, the English department may be hiring a new front-desk student assistant, or the College of Engineering may need a communications student assistant. While these positions may not qualify for internship credit, they are typically well paid and accommodate students' course schedules. To see what positions are availbale, visit the general job board available through the university's Office of Student Financial Aid.
English majors seeking internships in the Columbus area and beyond should first use their Ohio State name.### and password to log onto the College of Arts and Sciences Career Success jobs and internships database, called Handshake, and see what opportunities are posted there. In addition, students should look for postings on the following kinds of sites:
We also encourage you to reach out directly to organizations and companies that are of interest to you. All you need in order to contact an organization is an email address for someone who works there (use those Internet search skills!). Then, you'll want to send that person or office a short email inquiring about internship opportunities for the upcoming semester or summer. Note that you should attach an updated resume to this email so that the organization has some information about your background and qualifications.
Students interested in publishing, for example, might want to look at the websites of publishers based in NYC and Chicago to see if they have summer internship programs. Students who want to learn more about grant writing or fundraising might want to contact the local American Red Cross, YMCA, YWCA, or other area nonprofits to see if their fundraising and development teams would benefit from an intern. Students interested in library careers will want to work or intern at a local library, while a student interested in law should seek an internship that helps them find out what lawyers actually do on a daily basis. Students interested in middle and high school English teaching will want to make sure they find internship or summer camp positions that allow them to work closely with these age groups. Remember, even if no internship opportunities are listed on an organization’s website, you can still contact the organization directly via email to express your interest in a possible internship.
We have created a list of categories and Columbus area organizations that may be useful to students in thinking about places where they might intern. Note that this list is not comprehensive; there are hundreds more organizations and companies in the Columbus area. This list is just designed to help students begin thinking about the kinds of places where they might want to intern or eventually work full time.
Before you begin the search for an internship, you'll want to make sure you have an updated resume that is well written and free of errors. Remember, you're an English major, so your resume should reflect your ability to write. We have put together a couple of sample resumes for your use and review. You may also want to have a staff member in the College of Arts and Sciences Career Success office review your resume and provide feedback.
Beyond your resume, you'll want to prepare a cover letter that underscores your English major, the communication and other skills developed through your undergraduate courses, your work and other volunteer or internship experiences, and any digital or design skills you may have. Your cover letter should also indicate your interest in the position to which you're applying and demonstrate how your skills and previous experiences have prepared you for this internship position. We have a sample cover letter for your use and review, and you may also want to check out any resources provided by the College of Arts and Sciences Career Success office.
You'll also need to polish your interviewing skills. You may have crafted a professional and well written resume to get that first interview, but you need to be able to talk about your skills and experiences professionally and clearly in person. It's crucial that you spend time before the interview asking yourself potential interview questions and answering them out loud. Remember, when an interviewer asks you a question, they are not looking for one-word answers. They are giving you an opportunity to tell a story about yourself and your experiences that demonstrates your skills and abilities and your enthusiasm for the internship position they have available. It's up to you to prepare for the interview by thinking about what stories and examples you want to share with them and how best to present yourself as terrific candidate for the job.
The most important thing you'll need as you begin your search for an internship is patience and perserverance. Remember, it only takes one interview to secure that first internship, but you may need to apply to hundreds of internships before you hear back from that first organization. Don't get discouraged if you haven't heard back from the first ten or twenty internships to which you've applied. Instead, keep on applying, keep on emailing organizations to find out if they might want or need an intern! And if you have connections through your friends, family members, or mentors, use those. There's nothing wrong with asking a friend or family member to help you secure an internship with their organization. Give them a copy of your resume and cover letter that they can forward to their colleagues directly on your behalf. Sometimes, organizations have never even thought about having an intern, and this may be just the nudge they need to create the perfect internship position for you.
If you are interested in becoming a Professor of English, we strongly encourage you, first, to sit down and talk with a faculty member about their job and the process of earning a Ph.D. in English. You'll want to find out what they do all day; remember, they're only in the classroom teaching for several hours each week, so you need to figure out what they're doing the rest of the time. Typically, professors spend much of their time alone researching and writing or preparing for a class meeting. If you think this work might be of interest to you, then you should consider doing a senior thesis or independent research/creative project under the direction of an English faculty member. The best way to figure out if you'd like devoting your work life to research and writing is to spend a semester or year doing just that.