Here We Do: Students of Internship Plus (WQ22)

We know that not every student can afford to take an unpaid internship, which influenced our decision to establish the Internship Plus Program. This program awards up to $2,500 in financial assistance to students who have an unpaid internship opportunity and demonstrate financial need. Through this program, many students, like the ones below, have been able to gain important experience in their field of interest. Hear about it from them:

Haley Colegate interned at Arts of Life

My experience as an intern at Arts of Life consisted primarily of socializing with and assisting the artists in studio, as well as teaching weekly art history talks for virtual programming.

Choosing my favorite aspect of my internship is incredibly difficult, though I would have to say that forming relationships with the artists was definitely the most rewarding! For instance, one of the artists, Susan, sang to me a song that she had written about me, which brought a huge smile to my face. I have learned so much about each of their families, their passions, their pets—really anything that they wanted to share with me, I was happy to listen.

However, it was also hard at times. Sometimes artists would share very sensitive and upsetting events from their past with me. On one hand, I felt honored that they entrusted me with such information. However, I couldn’t help but be saddened by what I was told. When these sorts of topics came up, it helped test my skills with trauma responses and how to provide a safe place for artists to share.

As someone who is on track to become a therapist with a specialty in art, this internship at Arts of Life was a perfect fit for me.

I got to see first-hand how the creative process builds relationships, encourages independence, and provides a sense of fulfillment in these artists.

My experiences there also helped me to talk to other facilitators who worked there, many of whom are artists themselves. Meeting new people with similar interests/ career goals as myself is always beneficial.

In terms of advice, I would first recommend only interning at a place that you feel truly passionate about. If you don’t enjoy the work, the value of your experience greatly diminishes. Fortunately, Arts of Life combined two of my passions, which are special needs advocacy and art!

Without my Internship Plus award, I would have had a much more difficult time getting to and from my internship. Arts of Life is located on the west side of town and, without a car, was pretty hard to access by public transit. I am so grateful that I was chosen as a recipient, and I hope that this award will continue for others in the future!

Kendrick Bryant interned for RUN Sports

For my internship, I worked remote from home for a company in New York called RUN Sports. My official role working in the company was a mobile game developer/software engineer, and my work mostly focused on being the programmer for a mobile game.

Some of my responsibilities were handling the user interface, gameplay, and animations. What I enjoyed most about my internship were the people I got the opportunity to work with within the company. Everyone was very dedicated, enthusiastic about the project and remained motivated while working on the project to the end.

Some of my biggest takeaways from this internship were time management. During my internship, me and my group created meetings separate from our boss just so we could stay organized, and we created deadlines for ourselves to make sure we had extra development time. Everyone made sure that we accomplished our tasks ahead of time and this allowed us to have a very smooth development process.

This internship helped me get closer to achieving my career goals as it gave me more experience within the industry, more experience working with other people, and new tools to help me progress in my field.

My advice to other students would be, if you’re searching for an internship, find a project that you’re sure that you’re going to be passionate about. A lot of people get an internship, but then lose their motivation and get burnt out. If you find something that you’re passionate about, there will be less chances of you getting burnt out and bored of the project.

Being an Internship Plus award recipient impacted me positively as my internship was unpaid and required a lot of time and energy which would’ve gone into my part-time job. Receiving this award allowed me to focus more on my internship, my education and my career.

Malena Petronijevic interned at FashionBar Chicago

My internship at FashionBar Chicago in the Water Tower Place has given me the opportunity the gain a better understanding of the technical work a company needs to function efficiently. Not only did I get a finer idea of my management style, but also what I value in a work environment.

I engaged in many different parts of a business including marketing, finance, and management. Over the past few weeks I have been able to book designers for our upcoming April and October fashion shows, access and post on our TikTok and Instagram accounts, and manage mass communication emails. One of the most important and enjoyable learning lessons has been gaining a better understanding of entrepreneurial perspectives and how to eventually build something of my own.

Tony Long, my supervisor and the CEO, has structured all lessons with a common theme of applicability outside of FashionBar Chicago, which I have genuinely appreciated. My biggest takeaway in this internship has been learning about applicable work knowledge. Whether that was email etiquette, developing professional relationships, or setting boundaries, being able to learn about these rules in a work environment was very insightful.

I have also become very proud of my growing confidence inside and outside of the business. FashionBar Chicago, as a business administration major, has allowed me to reflect on what I would and would not want to apply in my management style. I hope that I can continue to explore alternative work environments but now know I work well in smaller teams.

My biggest advice for students seeking internships is to build connections with your business as best as possible. I had the opportunity to volunteer for Chicago Fashion Week back in October and because of my attentiveness then, was able to intern for them! As I continue to grow and constantly express my eagerness to learn, I have even had discussions with my supervisor regarding a potential job offer.

Do not feel afraid to ask questions. Your willingness to learn the industry will be very noticeable and influential. In regards to the Internship Plus award, the award has significantly impacted my financial stability this quarter. In December, prior to the internship, I broke my ankle in a mall shooting by falling down the escalators. Regaining my physical strength while working at an internship for free has been a unique experience! Being able to leave my part-time job was an easier experience with the award. Additionally, receiving the award was an immense honor considering my grade level and experience.

Anonda Tyler interned at Lincoln Park Preschool

My name is Anonda Tyler, better known as Nonie, and to the students I observed and taught Ms. Nonie. On Tuesdays and Thursdays , the school that I did my fieldwork hours at was at the Lincoln Park Preschool.

The school is smack in one of the busy places in the city and is a private school. This school is a dream location to me because it is right across the street from the Lincoln Park Zoo, where we always went to walk when we took the children outside for fresh air. The zoo was perfect to share intimate and angelic experiences that helped me build bonds with students more closely.

The days where I went to visit were during the school day, and typically their hours for school are 9 to 3 o’clock, where they take naps at 1pm, then wait for pick up at 2pm. I stayed from 7 o’clock till 12pm on most days and managed to get over 17 field hours.

The grade I was working with were preschoolers, who were called the 3s and 4s group. I enjoyed most visiting the zoo, and this internship allowed me to appreciate the art of play in teaching and why it is important to include multiple mediums with fine motor skills and gross motor skills activities.

This award impacted me in a good way financially, because it is very hard for my family and I to pay tuition, so it alleviated a lot of stress with worrying about proceeding in this field that I am passionate about due to not always having the resources to support that dream.

My Career Journey at DePaul

by Kyra Buenaventura

As a wide-eyed, excited freshman, I entered DePaul with two years of work experience and the mindset to conquer the world. One of the most formative experiences of my career path was participating in the EDGE program at DePaul. EDGE, or Education and Development Grant for Employability, is a program that is designed to combine career development and job skill development for first-year students. Through this program, I designed my first resume and completed projects where I learned many transferable skills. 

During this time, I was also applying to many on-campus jobs. I wanted to be able to have a sustainable job by the time my sophomore year came around. I received interview invitations, but I was never able to secure a job acceptance. After multiple rejections, I had to reflect on why I was not getting job offers when I received an interview.

Through this reflection period, I realized that my interview skills were lacking. I was not making myself and my skills appealing to other employers. Luckily, EDGE was conducting mock interviews where I was able to receive feedback firsthand. Through this mock interview, I built upon my previous knowledge and worked on making myself a more appealing candidate. I asked my friends and the Career Center to review my resume and cover letters, and I took all of their advice and feedback and applied it to my resume. 

Courtelyou Commons at night!

At the beginning of sophomore year, I was hired to be a Crew member at the Student Center. Through this experience, I learned about teamwork and time management. I was now juggling classes, homework, a social life, and my new job. My job as a part of the Crew is an experience that was formative to who I am today. I learned more about who I was as a student and employee, and it felt like my first real job in two years. Unfortunately, that job was interrupted by the pandemic, so my experience as a Crew member was cut short. 

During the pandemic, I applied to become an Orientation Leader at DePaul. Becoming an Orientation Leader was a dream job that I had ever since I entered DePaul. It combined all of my experiences at the university, and I was able to guide incoming freshmen into their first year at DePaul. It has been my favorite experience at DePaul thus far. I gained interpersonal skills and was part of a community of like-minded individuals, and I had freedom to create projects and outreach to students. 

Me with a couple of my Orientation Leader friends!

As of the start of my senior year, I am currently working as the Health Care & Science Career Community Ambassador at the DePaul Career Center. This opportunity has been the culmination of all of the work I have done at DePaul. I advise students on improvements they can make to their resumes and cover letters, conduct mock interviews to help students feel more comfortable when applying to jobs, internships, and graduate school, and more. 

Throughout my career journey, I have learned to never give up even in the face of adversity. Now, I do not see rejection as a reflection of my character. Rejection motivates me to reflect on my actions and see if there are ways that I can improve whether that means reaching out and asking for help or taking advantage of the resources that are available. 

How I Used Cover Letters to my Advantage in a Competitive Job Field

By Hannah Coleman, Operations Coordinator, Career Center

Getting a cover letter right can be difficult, especially when the style and tone vary depending on the job and the company you are applying for. When cover letters are done well though, the payoff can be crucial to prompt employers to give your application more than just a cursory glance. 

I have a story that I like to tell people who are skeptical about the importance of cover letters: 

About a year ago, I applied for a job as an Editorial Assistant at a well-known independent publishing company. I knew my application was a long-shot, as jobs in the book publishing industry are scarce and highly competitive. Still, I had 2 years of relevant experience, and was hoping to finally get my foot in the door to move up into a more active role in the industry. 

In my cover letter, after summarizing my relevant experience, I included a paragraph at the end of my letter stating why I admired the company and some specifics on why I was interested in the types of books that they published. I brought up projects that I had worked on in my previous role and talked about similar projects I saw the company was currently working on. I also brought up my own career goals and why I thought working at this company would accomplish those aims. Because I really did invest in the projects I had worked on in my previous job, and personally enjoyed them, I tried to make sure that interest showed in my letter. 

The next day, I got an email from a manager expressing interest. This part of their response really stood out to me:

“Your experiences and interest that you shared in your cover letter immediately stood out to us. Although you may not have some of the technical skills we are looking for, we would like to discuss options with you in an interview.” 

I was grateful for the interview opportunity even though I knew I had a little less experience than needed. I was glad that I went ahead and applied anyway, because you never know! While I didn’t end up getting the job, the managers were still impressed with my effort and interest and they offered me some freelance work. Although this was a pretty rare instance, it made me hopeful that all the effort I was putting into my cover letters was starting to pay off. 

With that said, here are some things I have picked up on through my job search experiences that I personally find helpful: 

Research matters!

A big mistake that a lot of people make is not customizing their cover letter to reflect that they have done research on that specific company. If you are sending out the same generic cover letter for every job application, then it’s not likely to get much attention. The cover letter is your chance to prove beyond your resume that you have a personal and professional stake in the job or company. 

Research the company’s mission and goals, get familiar with the current staff and their roles so you can reference them when necessary, and understand the company’s work and look into their projects. Use that knowledge to highlight if you’ve worked on something similar or applicable, and explain what nuance or perspective you could bring to the company’s current aims.

Specificity is key 

Be as specific as possible when you explain the utility of your job experience. Avoid common phrases like: “Based on this job description, I would be well suited for this role and have all of the capabilities listed in your requirements.” This doesn’t tell us about your strengths. Instead, be specific so employers know exactly what your abilities are. For example: “In the job description, I notice your preference for candidates who have experience using Adobe Suite. In the past year working as an Editorial Assistant, I used InDesign and Photoshop on a weekly basis to create page layouts for manuscripts and to touch up and edit photos for final production.” 

This helps hiring managers feel more confident about your skills and experience when inviting you for an interview. Hiring managers do not want to have to dig to find out if you meet their standards. 

Have someone review your cover letter 

This one seems like a given, but it surprises me how often I hear people say they skip this step. Errors in a cover letter or resume will typically remove you from consideration pretty quickly. It is always a good idea to have someone look over your cover letter, even if you think it’s fairly polished. For particularly important applications, revising multiple drafts has served me well. 

DePaul Career Center has skilled and resourceful career advisors that can give you feedback on cover letters. You can also check out the Writing Center as they can also provide hands-on feedback for writing style and grammar. 

Detailed cover letters are fuel for great interview conversations

In the interview that I mentioned earlier, the hiring managers brought up content from my cover letter several times, which led to productive conversations that allowed them to understand me and my interests better. I find that when hiring managers are able to converse with you in an interview more freely, then you are more likely to move forward in the interviewing process because you have had a memorable interaction with them and connected with them on a deeper level. This also allows your personality to show. In your cover letter, if you provide interviewers with just enough of a doorway to ask follow-up questions in an interview later, then this will help spark that conversation. For example, in my cover letter, I wrote this about a current editorial project I was working on: 

“A project that will be published this spring, Words is a Powerful Thing by Brian Daldorph, is a book written by a creative writing instructor and poet at the University of Kansas. His book recounts his experiences teaching creative writing at a county jail in rural Kansas. His own commentary, experiences and reflections are intermingled with some of the inmates’ own poetry and interviews. In the early stages, I worked with the author and editors closely to provide writing style suggestions and critiques on organization and flow of the manuscript.” 

This type of commentary isn’t always entirely necessary for a cover letter, but it completely depends on the context. In this case, I wanted to introduce the type of work I was doing without oversharing details. In the interview, the hiring managers asked me to discuss this project and similar ones I was working on. We had great conversations about the project itself and it was a great moment to connect with them on our shared enthusiasm for this work. 

Cover letters can be a surprisingly powerful tool if you can use some of these tips to work in your favor! 

ASK Experience Series: Communication

In the newest HireDePaul Blog series, the Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) Program will be hosting interviews with alumni designed to bring DePaul students access to unique career advice and professional insight. In the first installment, we spoke with Margaret Batkiewicz (‘74) about her career and the importance of good communication in the workplace. 

Margaret spent most of her career in global employee communications, creating internal messaging to keep employees informed and up-to-date. When asked about the importance of effective internal communications, Margaret told us that “a company that communicates well with its employees is going to do better, [improve] morale, and have less turnover.”

This messaging came in many forms, one of which being a regular newsletter sent out to an international audience of employees. With such a diverse audience, it was important that she communicated consciously, ensuring awareness of cultural and linguistic differences. By consulting with company leaders from the various geographic regions she was communicating with and sending out surveys to employees, she was able to successfully navigate this unique challenge throughout her career. With that, however, comes the joy of communicating globally. 

“I met so many wonderful people and learned so much about their cultures,” Margaret said. 

From there, Margaret went on to discuss communication as a whole and how it can make or break a company. 

“Communication is essential to the success of a company,” she said, “whether it does business locally or globally.” 

But what is good workplace communication? Good communication skills vary by industry, position, and workplace culture. However, there are some good practices that can be applied to any professional environment:

Tone and Volume

Be conscious of the tone and volume of your voice when communicating with colleagues. There is some truth to the old saying “it’s not what you say, but how you say it.” Pay attention to your tone, watching out for any unintentionally negative, unenthusiastic, or accusatory intonations. As you get more comfortable in a workplace, continue to practice respectful and sincere communication. 

Be Concise and Definite

Avoid any superfluous information. Communicate with definition, avoiding language that may unnecessarily extend or worsen periods of uncertainty like “maybe” and “probably.” In some instances, informing your coworker that you are unsure of an answer is equally appropriate to providing that answer, as long as you come back to them with that answer once you have it.

Practice Good Listening Skills

Listen closely and attentively while showing interest in the topic and respecting the speaker. Ask questions to clarify information you may have missed. Paraphrase what you have heard and repeat it back to the speaker to ensure understanding. 

Give and Receive Feedback

Be descriptive and clear, while avoiding judgmental language. Be open to receiving feedback without defensiveness, allowing for the other person to address all of their points before responding. Remember: address modifiable, not unchangeable behavior. 

For more information on career readiness, make sure to explore the HireDePaul Blog. To connect with alumni like Margaret and practice your communication skills online, check out the DePaul ASK Network!

Here, We Do: Students of Internship Plus (Sp21)

We know that not every student can afford to take an unpaid internship, which influenced our decision to establish the Internship Plus Program. This program awards up to $2,500 in financial assistance to students who have an unpaid internship opportunity and demonstrate financial need. Through this program, many students, like the ones below, have been able to gain important experience in their field of interest. Hear about it from them:

Monica interned at The Borgen Project

The Borgen Project is a nonprofit that specifically focuses on advocacy in the topics of Starvation/ Global Food Security; Newborn, Child and Mother Survival; Access to Clean Water and Sanitation; Food and Aid Reform; and COVID-19 Aid. My position as a Nonprofit Leadership Intern helped me to form skills in relation to fundraising, advocacy, community networking and mobilization, education, and issue messaging.

Without the Internship Plus Award I would not have been able to accept this position, and everything that I have learned in my three months has been so meaningful to me. My experiences with The Borgen Project have helped me to grow and participate in the DePaul Mission.

The Borgen Project sees that with the global power that the US holds, it is important to set an example through policy and legislation. I learned the importance of advocating for others and how to put the goal of ending global poverty into action. I used my voice to lobby with members of Congress and move toward my own personal and career goals of becoming involved in politics. This experience embodied the DePaul Mission because it allowed me to advocate for change.

Tyler interned at Chicago Public Schools

Holistically, this endeavour has been very transformative and informative for me. Not only did I learn more skills to add to my teaching belt, I learned more about myself and how I must move through this profession. As a continued learner and advocate for change, I must continue to place myself in positions that nudge growth and versatility. I reflect on how our ever-changing world is fluid, and I have to adjust my practice with the times to provide a relevant substance that elevates student experience and quality of education. Practicing as an educator means that we grow practical theories through experience, and these guide our practice.  Through practice, we find strategies and techniques that best fit our situation and align with the values we echo to support youth.

By leading with love and kindness, I take pride in building harmonious relationships with youth centered on genuine understanding, trust, and authentic connections. These competencies have been foundational pillars through my experience at DePaul, my student teaching practice at Walter Payton High School and have served to advance their fight to create a more equitable and socially just school climate. 

Katie interned at The Executives’ Club of Chicago

At The Executives’ Club of Chicago, I helped coordinate events for CEOs and COOs, Board Chairmen, and business leaders from all industries. The executives would sit down for each event and discuss social justice issues, corporate social responsibility, real estate development to lessen economic and racial inequality, and innovative trends. All of these events align with DePaul’s mission. I learned from leaders who take action to make the city, and the world better. 

I applied for the Internship Plus award because I sacrificed my job to take on an unpaid internship. It was a difficult decision for me. I had to choose between a steady income and an amazing opportunity for my future. The award helped lessen the financial stress I was under, and I no longer saw the internship as a sacrifice. It became a blessing that I was grateful for.

For the past three years, I’ve wondered how I can do good for others. I’ve wondered what my purpose was and when I would figure it out at DePaul. From my internship, I considered the small ways I can make positive change in Chicago. It starts with listening to others, educating ourselves about inequalities, and being a part of uncomfortable conversations to grow as a society. 

Komal interned with HARLEEN KAUR

Wanting to pursue a career in fashion marketing and management, I was able to get an amazing opportunity by being a PR, Marketing, and Social Media Intern for HARLEEN KAUR. From this internship, I was able to get a proper execution on working with a team and creating email campaigns. As this internship allowed me to get real-world experience, it truly helped me reach my personal goals of building my graphic skills and my creative brainstorming. By allowing myself to be out in a position with hard-working individuals who own a company, I was able to understand the pressure and dedication the team has brought and it allowed me to have the same passion as them.

This internship has allowed me to use the outstanding teachings given by my academic professors and incorporate them into my internship by continuously pushing myself to work hard and learn the true objectives of the amazing opportunity I have been given.

By working with my team and by getting one on one interactions with the CEO of HARLEEN KAUR, I was able to observe and develop a great number of skills, expanding my knowledge of the marketing industry. This helped me get closer to my goals of learning the true objectives of time management and allowed me to contribute to the team in unique ways.

Applications for the Fall Internship Plus program are now open. Apply on the Scholarship Connect by August 22, 2021!

Job Search Tips for 2021 Graduates

Be Distinctive

Right now, the job market is the hottest it’s been in recent years as companies are hiring following the COVID-19 pandemic, but that also means the competition is fierce right now.

Because many 2020 graduates had to put off their job hunt while companies went through closures and lay-offs, there are even more of your peers applying for the same jobs you are right now. That means your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile need to be polished and stand out. 

However, for the same reason, the competition is stiff in the current job market; the popularity of remote jobs and internships also opens up the ability for you to apply to opportunities across the country—and the world!

Be Open-minded

While job postings on Handshake are at a high, not all sectors are hiring equally. The top industries looking to hire new graduates were the pandemic’s big winners: tech, financial services, education, and professional services, according to Handshake data. It’s essential to be flexible in your job search at a time like this and think about what skills you could bring to a role as well as what skills you could gain, even if the job isn’t exactly your dream role. 

Settling for what is available doesn’t have to be a bad thing either! While working in your not-dream-job, you can spend that time also taking classes and getting additional certifications, attending webinars and events, and upskilling.

Be Prepared

Having classes, meetings, and hangouts over video chat platforms like Zoom has become commonplace in the past year, but it’s still important to treat virtual interviews the same way you would an in-person one. Make sure to dress professionally, prepare for any questions they may ask, know how to work the features of the platform being used for the interview, and that your setup is well-lit without any distractions in the background.

Some workplaces have also started requesting pre-recorded video interviews in which you answer a list of questions they have provided. Though this type of interview is not live, there is still not much time between receiving the questions and the deadline for sending the video, so it’s still important to prepare in advance.

If you’re nervous, ask a friend or family member to take you through a mock interview, or schedule an advising appointment, or drop in with a peer coach!

Be Creative

You should also be ready to explain how you spent 2020, especially if your summer internship disappeared because of the pandemic and a gap in your resume. Did you do any freelance work? What about personal projects? Did you take any new classes in your free time? Did you volunteer anywhere? You can also highlight any new hobbies you picked up to show you’re willing to and capable of learning new things.

You may have skills you never even thought about that you can highlight, including soft skills!

And if you are still looking for ways to add to your resume, there are plenty of ways to gain experience outside of a traditional internship.

Be Authentic

While your network is a valuable resource in job hunting, it’s also a great space for building relationships with peers in your industry. Not every contact in your network will be in the position to give you a job when you need one, but it’s still essential to maintain and build relationships without expecting a transaction. Professionals in your industry — especially DePaul alumni — can give you helpful advice and share their experiences.

Consider setting up an informational interview with someone in your field or bringing up the possibility of job shadowing at a company you’re interested in or with someone whose role is appealing to you. Check out the ASK Network to connect with alumni.

And don’t forget to give back when you can and open yourself up to meeting with students as a professional in your field, or pass on opportunities you come across to your peers if it’s not something right for you!

More information: