Preparing for College

Summer Internship for Rising Soph?

Question: Is it possible for a student finishing his freshman year in college to obtain a summer internship (paid or unpaid)? My son is majoring in chemistry. Aside from speaking with personnel at the college, what is another good source for this information?

If your son is resourceful, he should be able to land something satisfying this summer. The fact that he's willing to work without pay will be a big plus, too.

The best--and most obvious--place to start is at his college career center. As a freshman, he may not have even found it yet, but he shouldn't hesitate to drop in and check out what's available. He should also make an appointment to meet with a staff member who can help direct his search.

His professors may (or may not) have suggestions as well. Typically, notices on science-center bulletin boards can provide leads, too.

Peterson's internship mega-tome might be another place to look. There will be a lot of irrelevant information in it for sure, but--since the book is already more than a year old--a used copy from Amazon for under five bucks is worth the investment. See:

Something that you, the mom, can contribute to the search, is an hour or so on Google. For instance, if you start with "Summer Internships+Chemistry," you'll get some interesting hits. You'll have to weed through those that are for older students or for students affiliated with a particular college or university, but note that just because a position is advertised on a school's Web site--or may actually be based at the school itself--it doesn't necessarily mean that outsiders are automatically excluded.

Finally, since your son is willing to work without pay, he may also be able to create his own internship by deciding where he wants to be or what he wants to do and then offering his services gratis. If no formal internship program exists, he may be able to convince a prospective employer that he would be handy to have around for six or eight weeks. Keep in mind, too, that even when an internship is unpaid, your son MIGHT be able to wangle credit from his college if he can pass it off as an independent summer study project. Different schools have very different policies in this regard, but in almost every situation, the student needs to clear this well in advance of the internship and not after the fact.

In any case, while some of the juicier internship opportunities may go to older undergrads or graduate students, your son should be able to find his niche as well. If he gets some search assistance and clerical support on the homefront, that will improve his odds, too.

Happy hunting!