A Brief Guide to Internship Applications

DInternships Blog Photoecember begins soon, and in addition to cinnamon and nutmeg, the sweet scent of internships is in the air. The path to an internship can be long and winding for those of us who don’t finish our first semester of college with a clean set of A’s, or who realize they have an interest in an area late in their undergraduate years. Those who cannot break into the field will find it harder and harder to secure their first internship when competing for spots with those who have more experience. The gap only widens each year.
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Admissions Officer Insight: Five App Tips from Amherst College

Looking for insiders’ tips about the college admissions process? Sara Cohen, Former Assistant Dean of Admission at Amherst College, shares her top five application tips to help you fill out the best possible National College Match application!

Sara Cohen, Former Amherst College Assistant Dean of Admission

1. Organize the “Activities” section of the QuestBridge or Common Application to list entries in descending order of importance to you. In other words, start your list with the activities that you spend the most time doing, have been involved in for the longest period of time, or have developed leadership roles within, so that admission counselors will see your most important activities first.

2. List all your activities, even those that might not seem like “traditional” extracurriculars. If you work at a part-time or full-time job during the summer or school year, tell us. If you spend time taking care of a family member, caring for younger siblings, or maintaining responsibilities at home, tell us. Continue reading

Tips for Your Job Search

Processed with VSCOcam with b5 presetThe job search – a topic that still strikes fear into my heart. This is something that everyone in college will consider eventually. Let’s face it – the act of prostrating yourself before big bad employers is not the most comfortable. “Love me, please!” just about summed up my emotional state while sending out applications. What can make this transition from school to work less debilitating is having a plan. Here are three things to consider.


The short answer: early. Most people entering their senior year have to decide whether they want to look now or wait, so it’s important to consider that it can take around five months or more from sending in your application to your first day on the job. The company has a period of accepting applications, then they hold interviews, then they get back with a decision, and finally you muck through the paperwork required and work out housing and moving to the job location. Of course, some of my friends applied straight to graduate school and therefore didn’t have to worry about the job cycle, but looking for jobs as backup to graduate studies is not the worst idea. To be employed immediately or almost immediately after graduation without taking some kind of vacation period, you need to start applying early. If you don’t secure a job in that time you can also apply after graduation, but I think it’s nice to have some experience job searching by then.

*Remember that some fields (like consulting, for example) recruit during early fall semester, so ask around and find out exactly how excruciatingly early the deadlines are for your field. Other jobs offer positions on a rolling basis or start recruiting college graduates during spring.*

Starting your applications early means preparation, because unlike with your college application essays (by which I mean my college application essays) you really need to spend more than a few torrid hours typing out a resume and cover letter. Resumes should be checked and double checked by friends, professors, or career center professionals, to rule out spelling errors or inexact wording. Online, there are different preformatted templates to help you with cover letters and resumes for each field, but don’t forget to have someone else look yours over before sending it out. My friend Joyzel Acevedo ‘15 notes that, in art and film, “you cannot stop building your CV. Because if you do end up finding someone and they take a peek at your resume or CV to find out you haven’t done anything since graduation, then they’re put off from hiring you.” She also suggests applying for grants because securing a grant or winning an award stamps you with the validation that someone might hire you. Besides that resume-boosting mentality, if you love the art you’re creating, you should be creating as an ongoing process. Living to fill a resume is strange, but you can fill your resume with the best of what you’ve lived.


  • job databases
  • college career center
  • Google
  • alumni network and professors

Job hunting often means scouring job websites tailored to your field (in my case, ScienceCareers and Nature Jobs) as well as using any resources your college career center may offer. Chances are your career center will be brimming with resources, and if it isn’t helpful they need to hear from you that it isn’t helpful. While looking for jobs, I set up my internet browser so that each time I opened a window I produced a fan of tabs for different “Career Opportunities” and “Vacancies” webpages. To find those pages, do not hesitate to use Google as well as job databases. You should be searching for every job position and every employer you think you’d like to work with, because many jobs are unlisted. Besides the databases, career centers, and Google, you can also pore through your alumni network and professors to find connections. While mentioning a possible internship in the first email is rude, if you’ve started your job search early you can start off by actually getting to know them. This makes them feel less like they’re being attacked by a job-craving zombie and gives you a chance to find out if their work is really as interesting as it seems.

There is a line between sounding motivated and sounding desperate, a thick or thin line depending on your point of view. If you’re not applying in a field where applications are standardized, you should try toeing that line. Write directly to the person hiring instead of using the database, to seem more personal. Call the office to express interest or inquire about when you’ll be hearing back (politely of course – do not call at five in the morning to harangue them with your application frustration).


Above all, do not take rejection personally. Employers are looking for people to fill a specific position, not necessarily assemble a hierarchy of worthiness. I applied to one job at a prestigious university and thought it was a great opportunity working for a charismatic researcher until I met the lab members and found that they really just needed someone to oil the machinery: keep their spreadsheets straight and order essential lab supplies like coffee, or paraformaldehyde. While I was interested in a broad range of jobs, this was not one of them; being rejected from the position was easy to understand. Even if you esteem an employer or supervisor, taking a job means you will have to work in that role day to day; any side projects would be additional responsibility. Whether you’re considering a six month contract or two years subject to renewal, you want to be using your degree to get a job you actually want. With that in mind, know that most rejections you’ll receive arise when (a) another applicant possesses experience almost identical to the job description, which is something that you can’t help, or (b) the employer realizes you won’t be satisfied with the job. This just means you should keep looking, even if the job search seems like an actual job.

Victoria Turner, Quest Scholar Alum, Amherst ’14

More Lessons from a Group Leader

thais_college_prepAttending the 2014 QuestBridge National College Admissions Conference at Princeton was, in a unique way, bittersweet. You see, I had attended the very same conference two years ago. I can remember the day like it was yesterday. I was wearing an oxford blue dress (wasn’t much of a dress girl, so it was weird), feeling nervous and excited. I had a great time at the conference and I came home full of motivation to fill out the QuestBridge College Match application. So coming back to the same chemistry building two years later as a Quest Scholar from Amherst gave me such a sense of relief, the kind a hiker gets after getting to the highest point of the mountain and admiring the glorious landscape. Believe it or not, but Frick Chemistry building in Princeton, New Jersey was my glorious landscape.

After meeting the other fellow Quest Scholars/Group Leaders and going through training, I had the opportunity to meet the staff behind the magic that is QuestBridge. They seemed just as excited as the Group Leaders, which just filled the meeting room with energy — something we all needed after a long training session. At 5:00 a.m. the following morning all the Group Leaders reluctantly crawled our way out of bed to get ready for the big day. Thankfully there were bagels and coffee waiting for us at Frick. Before I knew it, it was 7:35 a.m. and we were all headed to our first stations. I was on parking lot duty, meaning Daniel (part of the QuestBridge staff) and I got to greet people at the park lot and direct them to Frick. I met many of the College Prep Scholars and their parents, guidance counselors, and family friends and even got hear their travel stories; some came from the town over, others drove all night from Kentucky. I headed over to meet my group, full of nerves and excitement. My mind was full of endless thoughts. “Don’t forget transition times!” “Don’t forget to pass out bingo sheets!” “What if I can’t remember the next room to go to?!?” “What if my kids are anti-social?!”.

Luckily none of that happened! I got a great group of students who were excited to be there and eager to learn as much as possible about the College Match process and QuestBridge. My favorite part about my conference back in 2012, and still my favorite part about this year’s conference was the college fair. I remember running around going from table to table learning about fly-in programs, summer programs, core classes, liberal arts schools (What were was those?!?). This year I got to watch the madness from a different looking glass. As I stood at the Amherst table with my admissions officer, I quickly realized how much I knew about my college. It was great to be able to show students how much Amherst has to offer and how even at a liberal arts schools there’s top tier research, athletics, dance and theater programs, fellowships, and best of all personal, relationships with the faculty. I also love Michael McCullough’s talk at the conference; both times he has managed to leave me and my fellow Group Leaders dumbfounded with the ideas and topics he brought to our attention — within only just that hour and thirty minutes or so. Once the conference was over, I had students come up to me, asking for advice, more information about Amherst/QuestBridge, and even my email address, so they could keep in touch during the application process. It was such an eye-opening experience.

So far you’ve seen the “sweet” part… but now comes the “bitter.” Once the day ended, I realized that I actually missed the application process (SHOCKER). Even though it was the most stressful time of my life, it was also one of the most memorable. I realized the door has closed on that period of my life and that a new group of students were about to open it to experience everything I did and maybe even more. But it’s most definitely not a sad ending! I realized that I had been looking at the wrong door. Instead of reminiscing on my past life experiences, I had another door that was opened right next to me — a door I had opened by becoming a Quest Scholar, full of my freshmen year college experiences and waiting for three more years full of memories. I have QuestBridge to thank for my experience. It has been a rollercoaster in itself — full of joy, anxiety, unexpected turns, that funny feeling in your stomach as you plummet to the bottom of the hill where all you can do is scream, and much more. QuestBridge reminds me that we all have opportunities to be great and do great things and still humbles us as we embark on the ride.

— by Thais Calderon, Quest Scholar, Amherst ’17