by Teri Fritsma

Diane Kulseth is a junior marketing major at the University of St. Thomas.  She has benefited from several internship experiences, including positions at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, the University of St. Thomas Career Center, and Three Deep Marketing in North St. Paul.  Diane offers good advice for students weighing the pros and cons of internships.



I began my internship search during my sophomore year of college. I knew internships were important, so I wanted to prepare early. Even if I didn’t get a position that summer, I knew the experience of interviewing with employers would be essential for my future job search endeavors.


I searched for internships through my school’s career center, which has a great program of interviewing on campus, and a job board which hundreds of organizations use. I also attended the Minnesota Private Colleges Job and Internship Fair to get a feel for what a big job fair was like. It was a great experience. I would highly recommend that anyone thinking of an internship attend this year.  


My university’s career center was a huge help.  There, I found a position with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development to work with their job bank, DEED was seeking an intern, and I was seeking an internship. I interviewed with them, and within days was hard at work.


Through my work at MinnesotaWorks, I was introduced to interactive marketing and social media, both of which would help me greatly in the future.  I acquainted myself with the idea of networking as well.  In fact, because of my networking skills, new doors have opened up for me.  I was offered a social media internship with a local interactive marketing agency which I started in January. 


I’ve gained valuable skills through my internship experiences—such as learning how to:


  • Converse with employers and clients
  • Present information to higher-level professionals
  • Write proper business e-mails
  • Create and implement strategies for effective business operations
  • Organize and prepare training materials
  • Research and recommend social media strategies
  • Narrow down my career goals and identify my skills and interests to convey to others


I would highly recommend that all students try to obtain internships. If you can afford it, I would also suggest trying to get credit for your internship, but if you can’t, the experience itself is certainly enough.  It’s hard to find internships that pay.  In the end, an unpaid internship that gives you related experience is always worth more than one that pays but does not relate to your career goals. By doing an internship, not only are you boosting your resume, but you are also that much closer to finding what kind of job truly is best for you.


Ed’s note:

Interested in finding an internship?  There are three upcoming events you won’t want to miss:


February 16:  MN Private Colleges Job and Internship Fair

February 19: Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Job and Internship Fair

February 22: University of Minnesota Job and Internship Fair


All three fairs are being held at the Minneapolis Convention Center.  Click on each link for more information.      —tjf

6 thoughts on “How and Why to Get an Internship: A Personal Story

  1. This is all excellent advice. Thanks, Diane!

    As a University of Minnesota grad, I attended the University’s Job Fair, which resulted in some good connections as well as a few interviews! Fair warning though, job fairs are not for the faint of heart. The biggest challenge at any job fair is to make a positive impression in a very short amount of time. Depending on which employer booths you plan to visit, you will likely have to wait in a line to talk to a recruiter; which depending on your personality, might make you extremely uncomfortable. Mark my words, milling about a convention center amid a sea of mint condition black suits, pining to make a connection with an employer is hard work. But, if done mindfully, this is a great way to break into your internship or job search.

    For some, a job fair might end up bearing some fruit. But frankly, most students leave with nothing but a pitted out dress shirt and some promotional koozies. Fear not. You can at least take solice in the fact that afterward, there is nowhere to go but up!

    Although i’ve painted a rather grim picture, I do believe job fairs are worth a student’s time. Any opportunity, I mean ANY opportunity to talk to a hiring authority is to your benefit.

    Oh, and don’t just show up unprepared. Word to the wise, never flake out on bringing your resume to the table. Make sure you can talk about your skills without sounding too awkward, or worse, fakey.

    Another tip: Take a few laps before approaching a recruiter. Observe how the majority of students are communicating with, and, get ready for it…do the exact opposite. In that sort of environment, everyone is feeding off each others energy. It’s a textbook example of mob theory. In a matter of minutes everyone starts morphing into “Shari sharp-shooter” over there in the too tight pencil skirt and 6 inch Candies. The most attractive candidates are the ones who are honest with themselves and the recruiters. Always.

    You see, a job fair is like a elementary school “first kiss” with an employer. You feel slightly uncomfortable, sweaty, your heart might be racing, you want to try hard but not-too hard. Just go with it. Heck, try and enjoy it if you can. If it doesn’t work out the first time, at least you gave it a shot.


  2. I got my internship through and it was such a great experience. Internships are a great way to gain experience, network, and often can lead you to a position right out of college!


  3. I’m so glad your experience with the MinnesotaWorks internship has provided you with new skills. You did an excellent job with updating the employer training lessons, organizing the MN State Fair green jobs booth, social media conversations, social media exploration and much more.

    I too participated in two internships and one work study during my college work and attribute those direct work experiences to my ease into a new career.

    Stop by the MinnesotaWorks booth at all the upcoming college job fairs in February at the Mpls Convention Center. I’ll have some information on green jobs and show our website with over 20,000 jobs now posted!


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