The pressure of trying to get a summer internship can be incredibly intimidating for some students and many don’t even know where to start. Some students don’t even care enough to have an unpaid internship and want to make money over the summer instead. I’m here to tell you why you should care and how to go about getting your first summer internship.

People really should look at internships as a gateway to the professional working world. The sooner you get an internship, the more prepared you will be to enter the field of your choice. I am a freshman here at URI and I have already landed my first internship. I’ve been applauded multiple times by adults, but in reality, I view it as just another step towards my professional goals. For people who also have high expectations for themselves and wish to be taken seriously in your desired field, I suggest you get an internship.

There are multiple ways to secure and internship. You could try and tackle it on your own (which is what I did and it worked out fine) or you could use the many resources URI provides to ensure you’re doing everything you can. One of the best resources is the Center for Career and Experiential Education. Here, you can attend internship information sessions where the staff lays out everything you need to do in order to get an internship. I attended one last week led by Caitlin Broccoli, an education specialist, where she sat down with a group of students and went through the steps needed to secure an internship through the ITR program.

At the Center for Career and Experiential Education, they help you layout your resume, prepare for interviews, and once you’re employed, they help you build your network through the ITR program.

When I was looking for internships a couple months ago, I worked on my resume, cover letter and my interviewing skills myself because I wasn’t aware of the resources available. The most useful thing I can offer though, is asking around for contacts. I asked my friends, family and past employers if they knew of any local newspaper internship opportunities. Knowing people gets you in the door and being qualified gets you the position.

The ITR program is just one way students can get an internship while earning credit. This program offers students credit with a paid or unpaid internship. Ashley Foley, another career education specialist, says that the ITR program “is a great way for student to catch up on credits that they might be behind on, or potentially graduate early by doing an internship over the summer.”

Foley continued by saying, “what better way to learn all of the theory behind your gen-eds and major specific courses and then use those free electives to put that theory you’re learning into practice through an internship.”

You can also get internship credit through particular classes in your major. For example, I am getting credit through PSC 375. I went that route because to earn credit through the ITR program, you have to have 60 credits, which I do not.

Maybe getting an internship is not on your mind right now, and that’s okay if you’re a freshman or sophomore. However, starting early puts you ahead of many other applicants you will be competing with once you apply for another internship or an actual job in the future.

Working experience will make you that much more employable once you graduate. Ultimately, getting an internship is not as terrifying as it is made out to be and despite what people tell you about “having time,” ignore them if you want to get ahead.