Tag Archives: supervision

A Review of My Internships

Technically, I had three internships during grad school. All three were in VERY different areas of student affairs, but one really just felt like an extension of my assistantship, so I tend to not count it.

One of my internships was with an office at a college that provided services to people with a range of…I’m going to say needs because I dislike the term “disabilities”…including test-taking accommodations (extended time, readers or writers, etc), note takers, physical accommodations (arranging for a private bathroom or ground level room), and many other things. I loved the work that the office did…the only thing was that I didn’t do enough of it! Shortly before I came on board, the director of the office left, so there were some transitional issues in the office. I don’t think the interim supervisor was ready to take on an intern and as a result, there really weren’t too many projects for me to work on. A lot of the time, I would just assist in whatever area needed help. One day I wrote someone’s test answers because the student had broken their arm in a snowboarding accident. I took on a LOT of tasks meant for student workers. I also did not have much interaction with students…something I really wanted seeing as I was going into student affairs!

Luckily, I wasn’t the only student in my program with internship issues. I think a lot of us didn’t realize that since these internships were meant for us to learn something, we could ask our supervisor to assign us tasks that would help us grow and develop the skills we wanted. As I went looking for my third internship, I thought about what I didn’t like about the past two…and yes I’m saying two because I really didn’t like that my not-really-an-internship didn’t teach me anything that I wasn’t taught due to my assistantship. Also, it was getting closer to graduation and I was beginning to think of what sort of job I wanted after graduation. I made sure to look for things that I knew were going to help me out.

This last internship was in a student activities office. I focused mostly on the “fun” stuff, like events and Greek life. There were multiple professionals working in the office, so even though I had one direct supervisor, I got to work with a lot of people! It was completely the opposite of my previous experience. The very first day I was there, one of the office workers walked me around campus, both to give me a tour and to introduce me to other campus administrators. The nature of my work had me interacting with students more frequently, but to provide even more chances for interaction, I wound up moving my “office” location so students could pass by and say hi. I was a much happier person at this internship!

Some tips when you are looking for an internship…

Ask your potential supervisor what type of projects he or she has in mind for you! You don’t want to be viewed as just an office assistant that is going to make copies and file things.

Tell your potential supervisor about some things that you would like experience with. Some might be projects you can do on your own, others might be things you’d assist with. Is he or she open to helping you get these experiences?

What are some things that you will NOT do? One of my internships (guess which one) was something that I absolutely did not want to do. I took it just to have something to do. I’m sure if I had tried harder, I could have found something else. OR I could have spoken to my supervisor about what I wanted to get out of it. While I didn’t want to be an RD for the summer, I could have thought of some projects that I was interested in.

How have your internships gone? What are the most valuable things you’ve learned from them?

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The Right Fit

So, the other day I mentioned that a job I turned down was at a school that just wasn’t the right fit. But what does that even mean? Think about when you were applying to GO to college. Everybody told you that you wanted “the right fit” and that “you’d just know”. Those things apply to a job. You want to work somewhere that you will be happy and continue to grow.

There are some things about the school or position that you will know just from reading the job description or researching the school.


This one is pretty obvious. Where is the school located? Is it somewhere you want to be geographically? If you want to stay on the West Coast to be close to family or a significant other, why would you even apply to a job in Virginia? On a smaller scale, what sort of environment do you want to be in? Do you want to work in a city or do you want to be in a more suburban or even rural area? In a city there’s PLENTY to do that’s off campus (fun for you), but it also might make it hard to promote on campus programming (terrible for your job). At some schools, there is NOTHING if you venture off campus.


If the school you’re applying at has a religious affiliation, you might have to see if your values line up with the school’s values. This is something you really should be doing anyway, but more so if there is religion involved. Back when I was applying for assistantships, one school with Catholic roots said that I would not be able to have overnight guests of the opposite gender. Not for me, sorry.

What You’ll Be Doing

This might sound silly, but you want to apply for a job you’re going to like. If you really hate academic advising, don’t apply for a job that has anything to do with academic advising. At smaller schools, you may be working in more than one department, so even though the job may be listed as one thing, make sure you read the description to see exactly what you will be doing. On the flip side, if you are working in a larger department, you’re going to want to see what your role will be in the department.

Aspects Important to YOU

There are some things that will be important to you that your classmates won’t care about. If you have a significant other or child, you’re going to want to make sure a live in position works with your lifestyle. I really wanted to work at a small school.

There are other aspects of the job that you can’t just look up online but instead will have to ask about during interviews. Other things might be a bit awkward to just come out and ask, so you will have to make your best call based on what you see during an interview.


What’s the office culture like? Is it a laid back, fun place to work? I honestly can’t imagine working in some stuffy office all day. Some offices have a much more casual dress code than others (jealous). Do the staff members seem to get along? Are they friends outside the office?

Professional Development

How invested will the school be in your growth once you get the job? Do they spring for ACPA or NASPA or tell you to just register for a free webinar? Is there a set professional development program? Will they let you take on projects?

Supportive Supervisors

This is probably the most important. You and your supervisor need to be able to work well together. This isn’t just another on campus job that you will leave once you graduate…you’re in it to win it this time! What is your boss’ supervision style? Do they seemed relaxed or does it seem like they’ll be hovering over your shoulder every step of the way?

As much as interviews are a time for your future employer to be learning more about you, it is also a time that you can learn about them! Make sure to go in with a list of questions about things that matter to you!

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