When preparing to land that first career job out of school, nothing beats an internship experience to give students a leg up in today’s job market. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, employers report that applicants’ experiences outside the classroom — internships, jobs, and extracurricular activities — is a much bigger factor than coursework and grades when determining who they will hire. A student’s GPA, in fact, ranked near the bottom. Read more in this Atlantic Monthly article.
The Geography Department highly encourages students to seek out internships and service-learning projects to enhance their education, develop new skills, explore fields, expand their networks, and gain confidence in their abilities.
This past summer, three UW Geography students headed east for internship positions, all with different working destinations: National Geographic, Girls Who Code, and Development Seed — each organization a leader in the field of cartography and programming. These three students also work in the UW Cartography Lab, which emphasizes the importance of applying skills learned in their courses through direct client work, during the academic year.
These students shared a bit about their summer internships with us:
Evan Applegate, a second year master’s student with interests in remote sensing and cartography, spent his summer at National Geographic Magazine as their map intern. He said that his internship was absolutely invaluable to his career and never would have happened without his UW–Madison credentials. “As a cartographer, publishing five pages of maps in National Geographic is an enormous professional feather in my cap.” Read more about Evan and his fellow NatGeo interns.
“My internship gave me the professional confidence to know that my knowledge and skills are useful and will be applicable to any number of organizations and contexts. I also broadened my personal and professional network into the greater tech world, which will help when looking for jobs and asking for references.” – Robin
Katie Kowalsky, a senior in Cartography and GIS, feels that the technical skills learned in her classes and the professional guidance from her experience in the Cartography Lab prepared her to perform in a professional setting. Additionally, she felt the confidence to reach out to multiple companies and talk with top level members of their teams to see where she would best fit. Ultimately, she chose to work at Girls Who Code to be the mentor that she wishes she’d had before declaring a major in Geography. Read Katie’s blog post about her experience.
The students all felt strongly that their internships have directly impact their professional development, from offers of full time employment to increasing their professional confidence, in addition to expanding their networks and communication skills.
Are you a UW Geography student who has taken on an internship? Let us know about it! Undergraduate majors interested in service-learning or internship opportunities to better prepare themselves for the job market should meet with undergraduate coordinator, Joel Gruley. Also check out these L&S career resources for more tips and tools for getting that important internship.
Alumni, are you in a position to hire a summer intern? We’d like to hear from you as well! You can “pay it forward” by giving a geography student a career jump-start too.