Author: Rachel Nolan
It’s just winter, but University of Iowa student Linsey Strittmater already has her summer job lined up. It’s not lifeguarding, nor is it waiting tables. Strittmater has an internship that could advance her professional career.
“I have been planning on attending a career fair since I was a freshman," Strittmater says. “The university brings in a lot of great companies, and I was fortunate enough to talk to (many of them). After a few interviews, I was offered a summer internship.”
Strittmater will work at the HON Company, an office furniture manufacturer based in Muscatine. The sophomore is one of hundreds of UI students who have landed summer internships at Iowa companies through career-related programs offered by the UI.
Many of the programs and services are run through the Pomerantz Career Center (PCC). “It’s our initiative to try to connect Iowa companies with students. We do that through career fairs and outreach to Iowa companies,” says Angi McKie, the PCC’s marketing and public relations director.
In 2012-13, 409 UI students interned at Iowa companies, up 32 percent from the previous year, according to the PCC. More than 200 other students found internships out of state as well.
In the last year, more than half of UI students stayed in Iowa following graduation, according to a survey by the university, says Garry Klein, director of program assessment and research at the Pomerantz Center. Internships can help pave the way for those new graduates to find jobs within the state, he adds.
Career fairs are a tried-and-true way to get an internship. Last September, more than 1,400 students attended the UI Fall Job and Internship Fair at the Iowa Memorial Union. It’s the largest fair held on campus, as it is open to all majors. Multiple fairs are held each fall and spring (See list).
Career Fairs at the UI
• Engineering Career Fair (Feb. 4)
• Spring Job & Internship Fair (Feb. 26)
• Physical Therapy Fair (March 7)
• Educator Job Fair (April 8)
Tim Dinolfo, who graduated last May with an engineering degree, took a spin at the Engineering Career Fair. “I just walked up and down the rows, and I found myself at the IDx booth,” he recalls.
Dinolfo clicked with the IDx recruiter and a few days later, he received a phone call that led to him checking a summer internship off his To-Do list. Dinolfo only had good things to say about his internship at IDx, an Iowa City company that specializes in capturing data from images of the human retina.
“It gave me so many opportunities. You weren’t treated as an intern. You were treated like an employee,” Dinolfo says.
Gary Seamans, IDx’s chairman and chief executive officer, says he recruits at the UI, because he wants the best and brightest.
“Our interns get to touch, feel, and actually be an integral part of a magnificent business,” Seamans says. “We get to see outstanding talent perform extremely important tasks.”
After Dinolfo’s internship ended, he was offered a full-time job. “Right at the beginning, they told me to look at this as an extended job opportunity,” Dinolfo says. “So I knew if I produced good work, I had a chance of being hired.”
Another option for internships is HireaHawk.com, a free service run by the PCC. Students can register at the site and gain access to full-time positions, internships, on-campus interviews, mock interviews, volunteer opportunities and mentors.
The PCC hosted about 5,000 interviews between employers and students last school year, bringing in organizations throughout the Midwest.
Consider Iowa is another way the university helps students land internships at companies in the Hawkeye State. The PCC plans to stage a networking event through Consider Iowa for small -to medium- sized companies in Iowa this spring.
“We want to create a workshop for these companies so that they can better recruit UI students,” McKie says.
Strittmater interviewed with several Iowa companies before deciding. “HON is such a prestigious company,” says Strittmater, who’s from Davenport. “I’ll be working in the Sales Leadership Developmental program this summer, and I am so excited.”
“The pay will be nice, too,” she added.