By Susan Dennehy, Assistant Director of Graduate Services, Social Sciences
Most doctoral students begin their graduate programs thinking they will pursue the traditional academic career path by seeking a tenure-track position at a four-year college or university. Over the course of your graduate career you may begin to have second-thoughts. Your priorities may have shifted. Or your life may have changed significantly. Perhaps you’re not willing to relocate anywhere in the country you get a job offer. Perhaps you have a spouse or a partner, and want to ensure that you can live in the same city or town (a radical idea, I know!). Perhaps you’ve decided the academic life just isn’t for you.
Even if the academic life is your primary goal, you might want to set up a Plan B in case you don’t obtain a tenure-track position. As you probably know, the academic job market has been hit hard by the bad economy, and the competition for tenure-track and other academic positions is likely to be very tough even after the economy recovers, given that every year, there is a fresh class of newly-minted PhDs. In the coming years there will be a bit of pent-up demand, as students delay graduation or take on adjuncting or other temporary positions while they wait for permanent positions to open up.
If you’re enrolled in a dedicated Master’s program, then you may already have some ideas as to the kind of post-academic jobs that interest you. You may have come to graduate school precisely to prepare for a specific career field or, if not, you may be thinking about what kind of employment to pursue after graduation.
In any of these cases, it behooves you to take some time in graduate school to explore your career options. Internships are a great way to do this. With an internship, you can:
- Gain some experience in an industry or organization that you think you might like to work in after you finish school
- Beef up your skills and to acquire new skills
- Build or expand your professional network
- Learn more about yourself—i.e., do you enjoy doing this kind of work, and can you see yourself doing this on a full-time basis?
Finding a rewarding career is a trial and error process. You have to try something out in order to learn fully whether or not you like it. Once you’ve worked for a little while, you can say with some certainty whether you like the job or not and, most importantly, why you like or dislike it. This helps you refine your career direction and identify a path that is more likely to be the right one for you.
Internships That Welcome Graduate Students
A variety of internships are available to graduate students in both the public and private sector, and many of them are paid. Some internships are available during the academic year, while others take place over the summer. Students can search for internship opportunities via Chicago Career Connection (in the "detailed search" tab, click on “internships”).
Here is a sampling of internships for which graduate students are eligible. This is not an exhaustive list. It is intended to give you an idea of the variety of internships that are out there.
- Abbott Labs
- American Cancer Society (Events Intern)
- Argonne National Labs Robert Rathbun Wilson Graduate Fellowships
- Bloomberg (OTC Derivatives Quant Internship)
- Bayser Consulting (Market Research Intern-apply via Chicago Career Connection, Job ID# 5884)
- Cato Institute (multiple)
- Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation Internship Program (for the policy-minded)
- Chicago Council on Global Affairs (multiple)
- Genentech (multiple)
- Latin United Community Housing Association Editorial Internship (email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information)
- National Endowment for the Humanities (multiple)
- RAND (multiple)
- Students for New American Politics (work on a 2010 campaign)
- Summer Links Program (University of Chicago program for students committed to public service, community building, and social change)
- Symphono, Quality Engineer Intern (Apply via Chicago Career Connection, Job ID# 5739)
- University Community Service Center (UCSC) at the University of Chicago (offers a wide variety of internships for the academic year. Apply via Chicago Career Connection)
- Wolf Trapp Foundation for the Performing Arts (multiple)
If you are interested in learning more about internships opportunities, please see a member of the CAPS Graduate Services Team (call 702-7040 and identify yourself as a graduate student). For general information on internships, check out the Internships page on the CAPS website.
**If you would like to explore post-academic career options and you are a doctoral student in the social sciences division, consider applying to an externship.**
Do you have tips for fellow graduate students, or internship stories of your own? Leave a comment!