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Bored? Get a wacky summer internship

By eneedlem

Section: Features

March 21, 2008

Brandeis students know how they want to spend their summer vacations. A quick glance through Hiatt’s internship search engine shows dozens of positions in almost every field imaginable—arts management, banking, forestry—and in locations ranging from New York to Japan to the Brandeis campus.

“An internship is definitely the best way to spend your break,” said Amy Hoffmann ’10. “A paid internship is even better. It looks better on your resume and is more relevant to your degree than a typical summer job.”

But tracking down a position that fits your needs, be they geographic, financial or intellectual, can be difficult. “It’s hard to find an internship that meets all of my criteria,” admitted Maira Braga ’10.

Even if you know what you want, it isn’t easy to get competitive positions. Most companies offer only a few places each semester and big-name internships can receive thousands of applicants. Molly Jane Rosen ’08, who has worked at The Colbert Report and The Onion, shared her strategy for getting coveted internships: “My technique has always been to apply way earlier than everyone else and to wear a cute sweater to the interview.”

She recalled her excitement when she learned of the Colbert internship, saying, “I’ve always been incredibly obsessed with The Daily Show—in high school, I hung pictures of Mo Rocca on my wall. When I got the job, Colbert had only been on the air a few months, so I got to be a part of something I’d always loved and also feel like I was doing something new and fresh.”

Nora Epstein ’10, who has worked for majority whip Dick Durbin and the Obama for America campaign, said she had always been a “politics junkie” and so interning for political campaigns came naturally to her.

“I was lucky because Durbin was looking for diversity when I applied,” she said. “I was 17, so that helped me get an interview, and having that internship on my resume helped me get my foot in the door for Obama.”

“For most of my life, I’d thought I had a future in politics,” continued Epstein. “But interning taught me what it was really like and I realized it wasn’t for me.”

Rosen also attested to the value of getting an insider’s look at an industry, saying, “at every comedy internship I’ve ever had, I learned so much about what ‘makes funny.’”

“And the best experiences are the ones where you can get involved,” she added. “When I worked for Colbert, I handed out scripts and got people coffee, but I also went all over the city, scouting for props. The whole time, I felt like I was part of something special.”

While interning for Durbin and Obama, Epstein says she performed office duties, as well as various research and web tasks, but also “had awkward conversations with Howard Dean about the weather in Vermont and with Michelle Obama about the season premiere of Entourage. I met a lot of exciting people.”

But the question remains: does the touchy-feeling, resume-padding side to internships outweigh the grueling, often unpaid, labor?

“I love internships,” said Rosen. “Each one I’ve had gets better. I’ve never been paid for my work, but I always learn important skills.”

Epstein agreed. “I had a great time interning and I made a lot of close friendships,” she said. “There was a time in my life when I wanted to do it professionally.”

Whether or not your internship merely pads your resume or is a real networking opportunity is up to fate, but chances are you’ll walk away with something: Rosen appeared in an episode of The Daily Show and Epstein still has Durbin’s number programmed in her cell phone.

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