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Preparing for interviews and application materials, students spend long-hours in the library.

January 23, 2023

Upperclassmen Share Tips for Securing Summer Internships Amidst Recruitment Season

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Summer internships are coveted positions for many Cornell students. While applying to internships can be overwhelming for many students, upperclassmen who found success in securing a spot at their dream companies, reflected on their experiences.

Many students dedicate time over winter break and the beginning of the spring semester towards internship recruitment. While some industries, such as consulting and finance, begin recruitment in Sept. and Oct., others like hospital-based healthcare and real estate, begin recruitment in Jan. and Feb.

Through summer internships, students can apply their classroom knowledge in labs, companies and nonprofits. Students have the opportunity to explore potential careers to determine their future career paths.

As a rising junior, Bianca Beckwith ’23 spent the past summer interning at Rutgers University.

“I was one of three summer research interns in Dr. Ron Hart’s lab studying DNA damage in brain cells resulting from chronic alcohol exposure,” Beckwith said. “The internship was through their NeuroSURP initiative.”

According to Beckwith, the hands-on lab experience at her job helped Beckwith grow her research skills in neuroscience research.

“There was a lot I did not know regarding the background of the research, so I had to take on the personal responsibility of doing readings on my own and filling gaps in my knowledge,” Beckwith said. “[This taught me to] pursue my own curiosities and seek out information in a way that is different from class.”

Paige Phillips ’24 interned at Peacock at NBCUniversal from June 2021 to April 2022. At Peacock, she reviewed Saturday Night Live seasons and worked on media age ratings. 

Phillips also interned at Bank of America in its New York City office from June 2022 to Aug. 2022 where she worked as a wealth management summer analyst. In Aug. 2022, Phillips worked with Bain Partners and Consultants as a part of the Building Entrepreneurial Leaders Program. There, she helped music labels partner with streaming services.

By immersing herself in various industries, Phillips gained greater industry exposure and a clearer understanding of her future career field.

“The media, entertainment and finance industries are dynamic and fast-paced — which is something I love,” Phillips said. “It is so important to be flexible and coachable as an intern, and to consider what tangible and transferable skills you can gain from the experience to utilize in future endeavors.”

In terms of gaining such exclusive positions, Beckwith said that it was helpful to network with older Cornellians and apply early. 

“Definitely reach out to upperclassmen about what research experiences they had and how they started their search,” Beckwith said. “And particularly for STEM opportunities, even though a lot of applications close at the end of the fall [or] beginning of the spring semester, the earlier you can identify internships you’d like and get started on your personal statement, the better.”

Spencer Thieme ’24 was a High Road Fellow while interning at Frontline Arts Buffalo. At the organization, Thieme researched and gathered data surrounding arts funding disparities in the greater Buffalo area.

Thieme also said that talking to other Cornell students can provide valuable insights.

“Talk to older students who are interested in the same kinds of things as you are,” Thieme said. “People are a lot more willing and excited to help than you would expect.”

Talking to Cornell alumni can similarly aid the internship search, according to Phillips.

“The Cornell Alumni Network was extremely helpful to me when looking for and securing an internship,” Phillips said. “It was quite beneficial to set up virtual coffee chats and informational interviews to learn more about potential career paths and how successful alumni navigated that landscape post-Cornell.”