Advice for Students Topics:
- Reading Internship Postings
- Tips for Applying
- Phone Interviews
- Making the Transition
- Preparing for your Internship
- Getting to Know Your Supervisor
- Thoughts from Past Interns
- Advice from Internship Hosts
As you consider
this experience: Remember: Orientation is very
rewarding, yet sometimes physically and emotionally draining… be prepared to
work long hours on little sleep sometimes.
Your experience at a new institution may be very different that at your
current, no matter what your current role.
Be prepared to learn from, to share with, to grow into, and to throw
yourself into -- that’s what makes it the best experience of all.
1. Reading Internship Postings
Although many applications
will say that dates are flexible, the amount of flexibility can vary
considerably. One host site may be
flexible by a couple days and another may be flexible by a week or more,
and some may be flexible at the beginning or the end of the internship
experience. A good rule of thumb is
to look at internship opportunities where you would be able to stay
(almost) the entire time. Know when
you need to be on campus for graduate school responsibilities. You will have a chance to list your
availability dates on your application so hosts will have an idea of when
you will be available, but applying for intern positions where you will
miss a week or more may put you out of the running. For the opportunities that say dates are
not flexible, they are not; however, if a posting says it is, you decide
if it’s worth the risk…it may pay off!
BUT BE SURE to discuss in any interview where you might need
flexibility --- don’t leave anything left to assumptions.
Number of other interns:
This section will let you know
whether or not you will have a colleague for the summer that will be
fulfilling a similar position or working directly with you. You will be able to get an idea of whether
this is another NODA intern by looking at the "Number of Positions
Available” section. If there is
only one available in that section but the position states there are
others working with this position, it likely means you will be working
with another student/graduate student who already works for that
Meals, housing, room and board,
and other benefits:
Most hosts will provide meals while the orientation program is in session,
some may provide an extra meal plan, and some may not be able to offer
anything. Room and board is usually,
but not always, provided for
interns during their internship, yet if you are hoping to stay longer, you
may need to find your own housing. Accommodations
vary greatly, of course, but remember: you will sleep there and it is only
one summer (so you don’t need to pack up your whole life to move there). While these benefits may be really nice,
they are usually looked on by interns as icing on the cake—your
orientation internship and overall experience are really what matter in
the long run. If these are NOT
provided by the experience, be sure to ask about options in any interview.
Arguably the most important
part of the host’s information.
Read it carefully and be certain the responsibilities are things
you would be willing and interested in doing. This is a great section to clarify
during a phone interview. You don’t
necessarily need to have experience doing every aspect of the description,
but you should be interested in performing that duty. Those who don’t
provide it as part of the job may be able to assist you in finding
affordable housing, or may offer meal plans for purchase, for example.
Qualifications and experiences:
Some will require that
students have completed their first year of graduate school and others
will not (this is also located in the "Position Requirement”
section). If you are an
undergraduate student, you may need to be flexible with your choices for
the summer, but there are opportunities for you!
Institution location and
Take your NODA internship as an opportunity to go somewhere different and
exciting. Remember that you are not
only going to a different institution, but (most likely) a new town or
city. Along with looking at the
institution’s Web site, perhaps consider the city’s visitor information. Look for internships that will provide
you with a different experience than what you already know (interact with
parents, plan a fall welcome, work at a small/large school, etc.) The new opportunities are endless!
Students and programs:
This will give you a great
idea of the types of programs the orientation and first-year transition
areas coordinate at the institution.
If you are really interested in getting to know what parent or
transfer orientation looks like for example, you may look for postings
with this characteristic, and you could ask about the opportunities
available for you to work with a certain program in addition to your other
Look at the institution’s Web site, but also
be certain to look at the orientation program’s information. You will get a great idea of what
incoming students are seeing before they arrive on campus, as well as
learn some basics about what the orientation programs offers its students.
**Note: Be sure to organize any notes you
take by school. You want to demonstrate
that you have done your research ahead of time, but make sure you are talking
and asking questions about the right school at the right time.
2. Internship Application
(Be sure to review the official timeline for all the details)
Institution decides to offer an internship; creates posting through the internship portal at nodaweb.org.
Completed Host application includes:
Confirmed NODA membership
Completed online application/posting, including all position details
Candidate can begin process by preparing resume and exploring internship information at nodaweg.org
Posting is compiled and prepared for online access
Potential candidates review posted positions
Candidate submit application, including an updated resume, online application and application fee.
Host receives candidate pool (applications and resumes)
Host screens and interviews candidates in the timeframe allotted (typically by phone)
Host makes initial offers (following timeline given)
Candidate accepts or declines offer(s)
Agreement letters and contracts are exchanged.
A great relationship kicks off and the internship experience begins!
3. Tips for
where you are ABLE to go. This means take transportation, finances, and
geographical destination into consideration. Understand that the more open
minded and willing to travel you are the higher your chances for an internship.
Really take time to read the job description.
Understand what you are playing for because you have a limited amount of
schools that you can contact! Specific characteristics to consider:
- Type. Be conscious of factors such as
control (public/private), religious affiliation, and type (liberal
arts/research/community college, etc). Working at different
institutions allowed me to experience the varying structures and
environments present at each.
- Size. Experience firsthand the
balance between generalization and specialization at institutions of
various sizes. Reflecting on my internships, I now understand my own
preferences better and have determined the institution size that best fits
- Location. Consider spending your summer
in a new area of the country--it is only for a couple months!
Completing internships in New York and California exposed me to unfamiliar
regions and greater levels of personal independence.
- Responsibilities. Look for a position that
has familiar aspects, but that will also provide challenging opportunities
for professional growth. My second internship, focused on parent
programs and best practices research, was vastly different, but just as
valuable, as the direct training and supervision I had with orientation
leaders during my first internship.
best thing to do is write down exactly what you expect from the NODA
internship, and how that is going to look (big vs. small; private vs. public,
etc.). Identify the top characteristics you want to see in an institution and
orientation program, then what you want to gain. It will be your checklist to
either keep or not keep them on the list when sorting
4. Phone Interviews
The basics of phone
For some people, this is the most difficult
type of interview. The good and the bad
of it (all depends on your perspective) is that the interviewer(s) cannot read
non-verbal cues, do not know if you have notes to refer to, and do not know
whether you are wearing a suit--or pajamas.
Still, remember that this is the hosts’ first impression of you so use
the interview to inform the host of your expectations and interest for the
neglect steps you would take with other types of interviews: do your research on the institution prior to
your phone interview (look for the orientation website, admissions site,
student affairs site, read posting thoroughly, etc) in order to have an idea of
the types of students who attend and the number of students who attend
Questions to consider
in preparing for the phone interview
(and even write out) answers to some of the following questions. While these exact questions may not be asked,
the answers you create could be applied to other questions.
- Describe yourself and why you
are interested in an orientation internship at (insert institution name).
- Describe a time when you took
initiative to ensure a project got completed.
- How do you keep yourself
organized? What is your best time
- Describe a time when you felt
you very stressed. How did you find
- Describe a moment in your life
when you were most proud of yourself.
How did you get to that point?
- How do you handle
conflict? Describe a time when you
disagreed with a teammate and how the situation was resolved.
- Describe your past
- How do you gain respect from
your team? What is your leadership
- What steps would you take to
get to know your staff?
- How would you handle the long
hours of orientation? What do you
do to unwind?
Tips for the phone
- Prepare for the interview. Type or write down key things that you want to remember during the interviews and use these ideas. (Remember, they cannot see you!)
- Dress however you feel comfortable. Some will recommend that you wear work clothes or a suit as if you were interviewing in person because it makes you feel more professional. However, if you feel more comfortable being informal, dress however you want—but remember, always interview as if it’s a formal setting. (Therefore, make sure you won’t be interrupted by another phone call, a dog barking, a loud roommate, etc.)
- Write down people’s names. This tip is especially helpful if you are interviewing with more than one person. This will help you make it more of a personalized interview and the interviewers will be impressed if you address them by name.
- Always use examples to support your answers. For example, "I find working as a team a benefit for a project that needs to get done. You can incorporate others’ ideas to make a better solution or product. For example, I served on the Orientation Advisory Committee where we had to come up with a new way of scheduling students into their classes. I felt that experience… etc.”
- Have a copy of your resume with you. If the interviewers refer to it, you won’t have to go searching for it. This way, you will easily understand what they are commenting on or asking about.
- Prepare some questions of your own. Consider "day in the life” types of questions, timeline of program, expectations of intern(s), living arrangement questions, etc.
- Prepare and have resources nearby. You can never do too much research prior to an interview, and the benefit of having one over the phone is you can have those notes laid out in front of you. Keep your resume nearby, prepare bullet points to common questions (accomplishments? strengths? weaknesses?), have the institution's website loaded, and jot down notes and questions that seem important.
- Show emotion through your voice. One of the most frustrating things about phone interviews is not being able to read the interviewers, but the feeling goes both ways!Although the interviewers cannot see you, smile and stay upbeat, and your personality and enthusiasm will show through.
- Embrace the silence. Phone interviews can be awkward because of periods of silences, particularly if you are on a conference call or if there is a delay due to distance. This downtime is normal, and is likely giving the interviewers a chance to take notes and prepare the next question. While your instinct may be to keep talking to fill the void, assure yourself it is all right, and keep your answers succinct.
- Ramble. In many phone interviews, one might feel
the need to overcompensate for the lack of non-verbal communication with
excessive talking. The interviews
can get bored, lose track of what you are saying, and become very
disinterested. Also, you may be
limiting the time that is available for you to answer other questions or
for you to ask questions. Hosts
usually have limited time for these interviews.
- Use a cell phone (if
possible). Cell phones can lose
signal at any given moment, can get shorted out by static, or the battery
can die. Try and use a house or
office phone—that way you are sure you will be with the interviewers for
the duration of the interview.
- Say that you hate or are bad at
phone interviews. Interviewers want
to see you in every setting and in every circumstance. Phone interviews can show immediate
confidence or lack thereof. While
you may be nervous on one end, make sure the interviewers sense the utmost
confidence and poise on their end.
interviews can be daunting, but remember, they liked what they saw on your
resume. Therefore, on paper, you are already a good match for them. Practice
those common interview questions, and feel free to have notes in front of you
during the interview (the best part of phone interviews!). Also, keep track of your interview times (don’t forget
about different time zones), interview somewhere you feel comfortable, and take
some time to relax before the interview. In other words, don’t schedule an
interview just after class or work ends. Some schools are slower in the process
than others or just get way too many applicants to consider everyone. Don’t
take it too personally, and do your best in the interviews you do receive.
5. Making the
afraid to ask questions. Ask you site what type of things to expect in your
experience. Ask your site what items you should bring with you. And ask
those questions that are important to you. Ask about the city, the program, the
students, ask the questions that will help inform your experience and make it
the best possible.
It can be
really difficult to move to a brand new place for the summer, but there are a
lot of ways to make this new campus your home. Consider getting involved in
something on campus. This tip may be especially useful to those who help with
an orientation that takes place at the end of the summer. For example, I took a
summer swing dance class offered on campus. You can also contact graduate
student organizations which may have events that take place over the summer.
Also, explore the campus and the town/city every chance you get! If you work
with other interns then take the time to get to know them and plan activities
to get to know the area together. Feel free to ask your coworkers or current students
about the "must see” places. Your NODA internship will be a rich and
challenging experience. You will work hard but take some time to get to know
the campus/city culture. It will make your experience that much better.
Enjoy not only the school but the city as well. How often do you get to live
in a random city for 2-3 months without any strings attached?? Whether it be a
small town in Georgia or a huge metropolitan, take some time to get out and see
what it is like. Not only will you enjoy it, but it will show you what type of
town you need or want in a job.
hard to work in Orientation without knowing all the answers. It's a good
idea to know the people who have the answers. Refer questions that you
can't answer by talking to someone who might. Network!
What fields are you interested in? Meet the other professionals on
campus outside of your office, and make appointments to meet with them, if time
permits. It's great to make connections for professional and personal
transitioning into your new position there are 3 important things to do:
1. Ask questions. Make sure you do your homework, but
have those questions ready for them when you arrive. They want to know that you
have been thinking about this opportunity!
2. Set expectations. Tell them how you work, what you
want from the experience, and plan out what is expected of you. That can take
away any surprises throughout the summer and build a healthy relationship with
your supervisor at the beginning.
3. Have fun and explore! It will be hard moving into a new
place, and learning new processes/structures, but the best way to transition is
to take this as a positive opportunity to meet others, and most importantly,
branch out of your comfort zone.
the school and its surrounding area ahead of time. Find activities that you would able to do
both in a group and by yourself. That
way, as you're making the transition and starting to meet new people, you won't
be bored in the process.
6. Preparing for your Internship
about the Host
Take some time to explore
the website and make sure to look at other sections in addition to the
orientation page. It also helps to look at a visitor's bureau website for
the city the school is in; you will be living and enjoying the surrounding
the institution’s Web site, but be certain to look at the orientation program’s
information. You will get a great idea
of what incoming students are seeing before they arrive on campus, as well as
learn some basics about what the orientation programs offers its students.
7. Getting to Know Your Supervisor
Stay connected with
your supervisor throughout the semester. Ask if there are any projects you can
work on or if there are certain things you can do to learn more about the
program. If you are comfortable, take the opportunity to explore the city with
your supervisor if they offer--it will be a great way to get to know them out
of the office.
Talk to them! They hired you, they want you there, and they want to
get to know you just as much as you want to get to know them. Don't wait until you get there to
start making contacts. Take advantage of
conferences like ACPA and NASPA to make contact.
Once you begin your
internship you should try to see if there is a time that your supervisor is
available to meet every week. You can pick to do lunch every Wednesday or
coffee every Tuesday morning, but either way, these weekly meetings are a good
way to spend some time connecting with your supervisor. Plus, try to
remember that your supervisor will want to get to know you as well! So
make an effort to talk to them when you both have free time!
8. Thoughts from Past Interns
me the best part was the connections and true friendships I made with members
of the staff and students. I miss them all very much and can't wait to find
time to go back and visit."
to spend the summer doing something I love with great students and staff!"
"My program was set-up so
that we worked on planning and coordinating Orientation all summer long, so
when Orientation finally arrived at the end of the summer the excitement level
was SO high! Everyone could not wait for the first-year students to
arrive and for the events surrounding Orientation to begin! I had such an
awesome time throughout Orientation week! It was a lot of work with
little sleep, but it was well worth all of it! From Move-In Day to
Transfer Day to the final dance at the end... everything was super fun!"
"The NODA internship is an incredible experience to
learn a lot about orientation and about yourself. The internship is what
you make of it, so be ready to meet new people and develop your skills.
Enjoy the process! (and make sure to ask questions if you have them)"
"I loved my experience.
It is something I feel every grad student should think about doing before
they graduate. It's a great way to meet more professionals, connect with
more students, gain more experience, and most of all learn more about
9. Advice from Internship Hosts
importantly – return calls promptly!
Even in you are no longer interested in that position, you owe it to the
host to return the call and let them know.
If you ARE interested, your call can confirm your interest before they
move on to someone else who seems more eager.
watch spelling and grammar when responding to emails and other correspondences.
Even if you are sending a thank you note, it is all part of the interview
process. Attention to detail is key."
If you are
no longer interested in a position, please let the host know that. It will save both of you time, energy and is
the professional thing to do.
assume that a smaller stipend equals a smaller experience.
with questions if you get an interview.
We will know if you’ve not put any thought into your interview or looked
at what our school and program is about.
Remember that the phone interview can be difficult for BOTH of us
---- hosts are taking a leap of faith,
too. It will help a great deal if you
show your personality in the phone interview.
Tell us what you’re looking for; tell us what you are most enthusiastic
about. Help us get to know you.
phone calls and emails right away!
When you arrive
--- help us help you get connected.
Don’t be shy about telling us what you need, or don’t need.
selected, in part, for what you can
offer. But also use this as a learning
experience. Don’t try to change the
program unless the host identifies that as a need.
with this – immerse yourself in the experience!