The In's and Out's of Internships


I don’t know about you, but the majority of my college career consists of long nights studying, trying to maintain a social life in addition to a normal sleep schedule, and family members telling me that an internship is crucial to my future career.

Interning seems a tad daunting: how can an unpaid position help me get a job after I graduate? How can I give up working for money to work for education? While all these questions are valid, students need to be prudent and consider their long-term future.

First, it might be a good idea to understand what an internship is.

The best way to describe an internship is a hands-on learning experience in a career field, either paid or unpaid. Internships allow individuals to learn on the job, make connections with people in the industry, and add experience to their resume. Companies today are looking for candidates who have years of experience behind them before they start an entry-level job. The best way to gain this experience is through an internship. Granted, not being paid for work being done can be hard; however, the long-term payoff is worth the effort, allowing you to move up the corporate ladder later in life.

The next question, then, is how can I get an internship?

In my personal experience, internships are best gotten through experience. A family member calling a friend, or a professor reaching out to a colleague. Getting an internship is all about who you know. Granted, you can always apply for internships to a company directly, but having a direct connection to someone makes it so much easier to make sure you get it. Managers love to hear friends and coworkers tell them about a potential intern, rather than just reading resume after resume. Personally, I’ve had an aunt call in a few favors to help me get an internship with a production company in California. While on my own, I can always send in an application and resume, but by having a personal connection within the company allowed her to vouch for me, which enabled the manager to trust that letting me on as an intern would not be a mistake.

What if you don’t have an inside connection?

Well, I’ll give you a few pointers on applying without one. However, my biggest recommendation is that you network as much as you possibly can now. Is a professor offering a trip to a conference? Consider going, and making connections with other students, business professionals, or professors there. You never know when you can call on a connection you made somewhere in college to help you find an internship or job.

A bit of advice when applying to internships, coming from a seasoned-intern: pay attention to the required skills and abilities, but don’t feel that you should rule out options that you are not completely qualified for. If you are missing one or two qualifications when applying, don’t let that hinder you. Apply for the internship anyways, you might be surprised when you receive a call back.

Remember, an internship is all about learning on the job, so managers will not expect you to be completely qualified. If you were, then there would be no need for an internship, and you could start an entry-level position right away.

 At the same time, don’t apply for a position that you are wholly unqualified for. As a marketing major, that would be similar to me applying for an engineering internship, or accounting internship. These kinds of positions are things that I have no experience, education, or abilities to speak of. Just because these internships are not the right fit for me, doesn’t mean that there isn’t something else out there that will be perfect for my skill set.

My next advice is to make yourself invaluable to the company which you are an intern for. Going back to my internship at the production company, I started on as an unpaid volunteer, coming in on my days off to help sort files, organize office supplies, and interview lighting directors and logistics directors. However, after a few days of hard work, the company realized that having me on as a full-time intern was far more beneficial than the one to two hours I had been spending with them.

An internship is the best option for work as students looking for lifetime careers. Without this vital experience, applicants end up less prepared than other candidates for entry-level opportunities. So take advantage of the opportunities present in your network, and find the internship that is right for you and your future career aspirations.

Awesome Online Certifications that Will Supercharge Your Resume


As a senior, I find myself constantly reviewing my resume as I begin applying for jobs post-graduation. Since I’m pursuing the competitive field of secondary education, my goal is to differentiate my resume from the rest—I want my potential employers to think, “Wow! That’s certainly something we’ve never seen before.” However, I had—and still have—difficulty finding the time to fit additional activities in my already busy schedule. In the midst of working two jobs, taking classes full time, and living off campus, cultivating my professional portfolio often takes a backseat. 

Like many students, I need something that will work around my schedule and pace so that I can invest into my future career.

Thankfully, I did not marinate in my pre-professional preparation plight for long—I stumbled across, a website that offers online courses at an insanely discounted price, as I was searching for opportunities to expand my educational knowledge. From there, I took it upon myself to explore other options of free certifications and courses online that either pertained to my potential profession or indicated my desire to better myself career-wise. 

These certifications and courses will not only help your resume and LinkedIn profile stand out, but will also diversify your portfolio in ways thought not to be possible. Additionally, it is a convenient and time-efficient way a student can educate themselves online for free, which is perfect for the busy (and often broke) college student. 

Potential employers and companies will see that you are a candidate who invests in his or herself in a professional and personal manner, as evidenced in your willingness to explore options that cultivate your career. If you put in the effort, the outcome for job interviews will increase based upon your ability to continually learn new skills that will benefit your future employer.

Here are online certificates and courses that will boost your professional skill set and widen the horizon of job prospects:


The Digital Garage by Google

This free, online introductory certificate enhances your knowledge of Online Marketing in areas such as Analytics, Adwords, E-mail Marketing, efficient web-search processes, social media, and more. 

As an award winning platform, the Digital Garage offers various tutorials taught by experts in the field that can be taken separately based upon your specific interests, or taken altogether so that you can receive a certificate from both Google and IAB Europe upon its completion. 

It is a perfect way to convert your communicative and technological talents into a useful certificate that will enhance your resume and career prospects, as well as place you on track to further technological knowledge.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network’s Psychological First Aid

This online course is not only free, but is endorsed by the United States Department of Veteran Affairs. Hosted by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, it teaches you how to help children and adults who have experienced, or are currently experiencing, psychological distress after surviving disastrous circumstances. You will learn how to connect them to mental health professionals so that the individual can begin to heal in the wake of their trauma. 

There are also other free courses offered on the website that are geared towards aiding children and military families with their specific coping needs. This is an essential course for those who wish to pursue careers in psychology, education, law enforcement, and medicine, and will definitely enhance your qualifications in the eyes of a potential employer.

Microsoft Learning: Certifications in Microsoft Excel

Microsoft has an online platform that offers many certification courses for Microsoft Office—one of the most popular being a certificate in Microsoft Excel!

You will learn how to write formulas and functions that can be useful to many career fields, have constant access to course materials and instructor, and participate in interactive lessons that will keep you engaged. 

The courses offered will turn you into an expert of Excel and will be an asset to your resume and LinkedIn profile, especially if you are interested in a career involving business, accounting, finance, and even communications. 

In addition to Microsoft’s platform, there are many beginner and advanced courses on Microsoft Excel that are hosted by, some of which retailing for only $12—93% off of its original sticker price!

Codecademy: Learn to Code

In this technological day and age, coding is playing a larger role in every career path as the demand for coding skills in various fields is on the rise. Be ahead of the curve, and use Codecademy! 

Codecademy is an online resource that offers free coding courses. It is perfect for those who are tech-savvy and innate autodidacts, and an extremely useful certification to have when entering any field reliant upon technology and computer programming. The website will help you facilitate the brain’s methodical faculties, as well as merge analytical skills into the technological field. 

The website boasts that 45 million people across the world have utilized the skills learned through their courses, which means that it is not only doable, but able to be applied to a number of careers.

American Association of Medical Assistants’s Medical Terminology Certification

The American Association of Medical Assistants offers a free certification in Medical Terminology that will be an amazing asset to your resume, especially if you are student considering careers in the medical field, such as Pre-Med programs or Nursing, or studying the Health Sciences. 

It trains and familiarizes you in the medical jargon implemented in healthcare settings, as well as extensive knowledge of Anatomy and Physiology. They offer practice examinations and study tools to help you ace the final certificate test, and enhances your knowledge in the field. (It will help you on Dr. Sallai’s and Dr. Curtis’s exams, too!) 

Students who wish to attend medical school will find this to be a perfect addition to their own prior medical experience, as well as a useful resource for future studies.    

Udemy: An Online Resource for Learning

Udemy features a variety of certifications and courses geared towards the enrichment of your studies or facilitating knowledge in a subject you were not particularly attuned to. Many of its courses are perfectly tailored for college students seeking guidance, diversity, and additional skills to help in their professional pursuits. 

While the courses and certifications offered are mainly geared towards business and technology, there are also many other curriculums geared towards one’s own personal development. Whether you are seeking to hone pre-existing skills, learn new ones, or simply invest into yourself as a person, the investment is certainly one that will prove to pay in spades!

Udemy has a plethora of low-cost courses, ranging from IT & Software to the Humanities. It is a wonderful resource for those who wish to grow in knowledge in many fields, as well as those who seek to better themselves on an intellectual level. Coupled with the essential assistance offered by the Office of Career Services, you will be fully prepared, confident, and secure as you enter into the professional world.


Whatever field you are interested in, there is an array of online introductory certifications and courses that are either free or low-cost that will bring your resume to the next level. Potential employers will wish to have you work with their company as a multi-faceted and well-rounded person, who takes the initiative to invest in yourself and your career aspirations. 

You will be well ahead of other applicants because you demonstrate your desire to learn and grow in knowledge of your craft, as well as foster the talents you already possess and make them THAT much greater as assets. 

Visit the Office of Career Services, or “The Den,” located on the first floor of the Student Union, to help begin your pre-professional pursuits and place you on the path for success!

Student Spotlight: Gabriella Forte

Gabriella Forte, a sophomore from Jacksonville, Florida, exemplifies what it means to be a dedicated student. Majoring in Politics and minoring in Theology, she has a lot on her plate, yet carries the load with grace and poise. Gabriella spent last summer as an intern for the U.S. Attorney in Jacksonville, and looks forward to the exciting opportunities that this summer holds. 

How do you usually go about getting a summer job?

All of the jobs that I have had so far have been given to me. Each boss I have had has come to me and asked me if I want the position, which is not normal. This past summer, I was not sure if I wanted to go into law after college, so I figured that an internship would show me whether or not that would be the right path. I was looking for different legal internships but no one wanted me because I was a freshman, undergraduate, undeclared political science major, with no experience at all in the field. I was starting to get really frustrated. I called my sister during the process and I was telling her that I was really struggling to find an internship. She said, “Well, my AP calculus teacher’s husband is a U.S. Attorney, and she mentioned in class that he was hiring interns". She offered to put in a word for me, and he got my number through her. He called the next day at 8pm saying that if he could have my resume and cover letter by that night, he would put in my application. Unfortunately, at that time, I did not have a resume, but I stayed up until 4am writing a resume and cover letter and I submitted it to him and got the job!

What was it like to work for a U.S. Attorney?

Overall, it was incredibly exciting. I got to meet FBI, Homeland Security, and Secret Service agents. I was able to tour government facilities and go through a lot of exciting cases with my supervisor. Some were very gruesome because the man that I did most of my work for worked on child exploitation cases. Going through those cases was very hard and, at first, I did not like them at all. Over time, however, those became my favorite cases because it gave me something to work towards. I was able to see the effects of these peoples horrible acts and help to put them away for it. 

What was the highlight of your experience?

I think the highlight of the internship was my boss’ trial at the end of the internship. The case’s subject was a man that thought he was communicating with a 14 year old girl, who, thankfully, was an undercover officer. I had to transcribe his interview with the police, which was over 100 pages long! That was a lot of fun to do. It was really neat to see my work being projected on the screen during the trial in front of the entire jury. The trial was very difficult because all I had known about the case was preliminary, and at the trial, a lot of nasty details came out that I was not expecting. It really broke my heart and made me realize how much darkness there is in the world. That is definitely one of the scarier things that came out of the internship.

If an Ave student was interested, could they apply for this same internship?

Absolutely! My boss is Catholic, and the joke around the office is that he favors Catholic students, even though the work environment is not at all conducive to the Catholic faith. I know he would be very pleased to have another Ave Maria student!

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I really would love to do something with religious liberty, but I’m not exactly sure where God is calling me. I’m still discerning.

What are your plans for this year to get closer to your goal for the future?

Right now, I am applying for two internships - one with with the US Commission on International Religious Freedom in DC, and one with the Family Research Council, also in DC. I applied for a couple of study programs as well. I submitted an application for Alliance Defending Freedom Arete Academy, and by tomorrow I will have submitted an application for the Hudson Institute. All of them would be amazing opportunities so I will be happy no matter what happens, but I am really hoping to get into the Arete Academy because it integrates politics and the Christian faith.

What is the highest honor/ award that you have ever received? 

My high school was named “Bishop Schneider” after a bishop we had two bishops ago. He founded three schools in my area and started two summer camps for individuals with mental and physical disabilities. In addition to that, he volunteers on death row all the time and comes to the high schools in the area regularly for sporting events and to say mass. He has so much humility, peace, and joy and just exudes the love of Christ. There is an award given to a senior each year that, in essence, says, “You represent the qualities that Bishop Schneider exhibits”. I received that award when I graduated and it was very humbling. I definitely don’t think that I deserved it. He’s such an amazing man!

Do you have a favorite space in your home?

My favorite spaces are the kitchen and my bedroom. I love to cook. My sisters and I will go to Publix at one in the afternoon and not be finished cooking until my parents come home at 7pm. When we are home together, that is what we love to do…just be in the kitchen and cook homemade meals and desserts. Also, my bedroom at home is my favorite place to be if I get stressed out. Last year, Father Dunn told me about perpetual eucharistic adoration on the computer. I pull that up on my tablet and set it up so when I walk into my room it is like a mini adoration chapel. 

What has been your happiest moment?

Two summers ago, my family and I took a vacation to South Carolina and stayed in the mountains. We had never done anything like that before. We went white water rafting and zip-lining. My family usually likes to plan everything out to the smallest detail, but this vacation was not planned out, so it was just spontaneous fun the whole time! There was a lake that the cabin we were staying at was on, so we did some activities on the water, which was amazing. We also found out that there were waterfalls nearby, and being from Florida that was so exciting and so bizarre. Being outside together, laughing, and tripping over sticks was such a joy. 

Why did you choose Ave Maria University?

I wanted to come to Ave because I was going to study theology. I started looking for Catholic universities in the state of Florida, so Ave Maria stood out immediately and I fell in love with it. I wanted to make a prudent decision though, so I put Ave aside and looked at other places like CUA, Franciscan, Villanova, and Belmont Abbey. When it came down to the end of senior year, I decided that maybe I wanted to study politics instead. CUA had a great politics program, and it was right in the heart of American politics, but it had two barriers. First, the distance from home, and second, the cost. However, they had a Presidential Scholarship, which I met all of the qualifications for except for the ACT; I had a 29 and I needed a 30. I took the ACT again, and super-scored, it was a 30. Unfortunately, CUA doesn’t superstore the ACT, so I didn’t make the cut. About an hour later, Mary Reed, from Ave, called me and said, “We just got your new ACT score and it bumps you up into the next scholarship bracket!”. I was looking for a clear sign, and there it was.

How to Keep Moving Forward During Spring Break

This week is referenced by perhaps the two greatest words in the college students' vocabulary. Do you know what they are?

"Spring Break"

I would have also accepted, "Open Book," "Multiple Choice," "Class Cancelled," or "I'm not going to set my alarm."

For working professionals such as myself, we refer to today as "Another Monday." But even so, there is a joy and gratitude in the air for the chance that spring break offers.

It is fitting that, this year, spring break began the same week as the season of Lent. The two seasons go hand-in-hand. Lent allows us to withdraw from the world and refocus our attention on Christ. Spring Break is an opportunity to withdraw--just for a little while--from the routine of academic life, while also being a time to recharge and refocus our attention on our personal, academic, and professional goals.

The point of the break is not to do nothing, but to pursue the fullness of your vocation and being in ways that may get left behind during the busy academic semester.

Here's some good ways to spend your break:

Read a book. The most successful people in the world typically have a reading list. Bill Gates is famous for reading 50 books a year (basically one per week), and it is a good practice to spend 30 minutes a day engaged in reading or learning about something new. Pick up a book related to your schoolwork, or better yet find a book on a professional topic that interests you. The more general knowledge you possess, the better off you will be.

Go outside. Sitting on the couch for a day is not necessarily the worst thing in the world, but take advantage of the spring weather and enjoy the outdoors. Consider having a picnic, going camping, playing sports, or doing yardwork. Fresh air can help you come back from the break feeling renewed and relaxed.

Connect with friends. Invite someone to lunch for a chance to catch up. (Re)connecting with friends is important not only to maintain your relationship, but to help it mature and grow as you spend these crucial years in formation at college. Don't be afraid to ask them deep questions, or learn what they plan to do with their life.

Watch good TV. That's right. Go ahead and finish up that show or start a new one. With so many networks and media streaming possibilities, the consumption and discussion of entertainment seems to become a bigger part of our cultural experience everyday. But the opportunities to see and discuss something meaningful, thought-provoking, or artistic seem rarer than ever. Find something worth watching, and be able to discuss it with friends. It helps you to be well-rounded and engage in the world around you. 

And of course it's relaxing....

Catch up on current events. If you have not been keeping up with the news, now is the time to read through your favorite news sources, blogs, etc. Or if you are not typically given to reading the news, now is a great time to find and subscribe to top news outlets. Share your selections with your friends, and consider spending a set amount of time each day reading about what's happening in the world around you.  

Journal. If this is not already a frequent practice for you, spring break is the chance to make it one. People who regularly synthesize their thoughts and reflections in the written form are vastly more creative, better communicators, better decision-makers, and have greater confidence. Journaling is a great way to start or end your day with focus, which is the goal of spring break. Here's a tip: buy yourself a nice bound notebook and a good pen, and you will actually look forward to journaling everyday.

Arrange informational interviews. This is the second-most valuable thing you can do in preparing for a career (apart from an internship). Reach out to people in your network (family, friends, professionals you know, colleagues of people in your network, etc.) for a quick chat about their career. Ask questions you have regarding that career, especially if this is a field you want to enter. Get their perspective on the job; don't ask questions for things you could find on the internet. Keep it personable, positive, and grateful. These people could be mentors in the near future, or could help you find that next job or internship. (But above all, don't ask "can you get me a internship this summer?" There's better ways to ask that question...)

Go shadow. Shadowing is a one-day or one-week experience to simply follow a professional around and observe what they do for their work. Take advantage of the time off to gain valuable first-hand exposure to the career you want. Ask around in your network, or find someone at a company nearby to you. Be sure to bring a pad to take notes, and talk with anyone you can while you're there (as long as you don't interrupt their work).

Listen to podcasts. There are some amazing podcasts out there which are informative, entertaining, and original. They're a great way to continue learning, and you can play them anywhere: in the car, in the gym, or on your way to class. Some of my personal favorites include Things You Missed In History Class, TED Radio Hour, and RadioLab. Find some that you appreciate and add them to your routine.

Exercise. Physical activity is obviously important for your health, but it's also important to improve your brain function, your immune system, your creativity, and your confidence. Getting some exercise over the break is a great way to prepare for the rest of the semester. 

Sleep. Catching up on sleep is important. We're only beginning to understand the value of a regular sleep schedule, and all those late evenings and all-nighters certainly don't help your brain function, metabolism, or immune system. Take time to rest, get into good sleep habits, and learn how to avoid distractions or stress that will keep you up at night.

Apply to jobs and internships. All you juniors and seniors know you have to do this, right? The time to apply for jobs and internships is waaaay before this (many deadlines close by January-February), but use the free time to organize your applications, collect necessary materials, connect with recruiters, and set up interviews.

Some places even allow you to intern for the week. Keep that on your radar. If you're trying to convince businesses to set up a summer internship with you, offer to use the week as a trial for their summer program.

Volunteer. Do something nice for someone else. Spend some time at a local nursing home, visit those in a local prison, or volunteer your time at a homeless shelter. Give back to your local community through trash clean-ups, blood drives, or tutoring at the local grade school. The time off is a blessing, so what better way to use that extra time than to serve those in need?

Catch up on school. If you've fallen behind on your reading or have an impending deadline in the week or two after the break, get a jump on those assignments now. It will allow you to finish out the last half of the semester strongly, while also freeing up your time at school to focus on your diverse interests.

Conduct research. Whether at school or on your own, spring break presents a good chance to do some research on a topic related to your major or career. If you are at school, it may be worth asking your professor if there is some project you can research for him or her. If you are away, look into working with a college or high school back home, or perhaps in doing independent research on your own time.

Plan. There are only two months left in the semester, so know how you're going to spend the time once you get back. Become familiar with some time management tools or worksheets. Purchase a planner so you can see exactly where your time goes each week, and how you can use it best. Those who fail to prepare are preparing to fail.


With these tips and practices, you cannot fail to have a wonderful, fruitful Spring Break. Enjoy the well-deserved time off, and be sure to come see us when you return!