By Dale J Rappaneau Jr. Contributing Writer
Back again for its fifth year, the UMF Internship Fair will connect studen
ts with local and regional businesses, each of which are in search of interns for various positions.
The Internship Fair will take place on Wednesday, March 7, from 11:00 a.m to 1:30 p.m., in the Olsen Student Center, and will feature such businesses as Alice James Books, the Maine State Aquarium, Sebago Trails Paddling, various district attorney offices and more.
“It’s a smattering of everything,” said Joe Austin, interim Associate Director of the Partnership for Civic Advancement (PCA). “We want students to have a taste and visit tables to talk to folks, some directly involved in their area of interest. We also want them to think about things they might be interested in, yet haven’t thought about before.”
Austin admits that it can be nerve-wracking for students to approach businesses about internships, but he believes it’s “important for students take the opportunity to put themselves out there.” Austin recommends bringing a resume in case a business asks for one.
Austin also recommends asking the representatives a lot of questions. “It’s intimidating, but the key to getting over that is to ask questions. ‘What’s your day like?’ ‘How’d you get in the field?’ If you have a genuine curiosity, it comes through.” Austin added, “The businesses that come to the fair, they come because they get great students, and they’re here to help students. Just walk right up and start a conversation.”
For the last four years, the Maine State Aquarium has been one of the core returning businesses attending the UMF Internship Fair. Elaine Jones, Education Director for the Department of Marine Resources, which oversees the aquarium, said she “treasures their relationship” with UMF.
“There’s so much opportunity for students,” said Jones, “and a lot of our interns will tell me, ‘We learned more at this job than during an entire year of school.’ The hands-on experience is huge for their growth.”
The Maine State Aquarium, located in Boothbay, hires three paid interns each summer. The interns work five days a week at the aquarium, caring for and interacting with aquatic creatures of all types. At the time of writing, all three positions are still open.
“I started as an intern, and I’ve been in this position for twenty-eight years,” said Jones. “Been there, done that—was one of them—and I’m gonna make sure [the interns] walk away being able to call on me for a recommendation.”
Austin admits that not all students will find their ideal career opportunity at the Internship Fair, which is why he encourages students to contact him at the PCA office and schedule an appointment to discuss internship possibilities.
“We have many more listings than will be at the fair,” he said. “If they don’t see something they like, we can talk about it. We’ll work with them to find something that works.”
Students interested in discussing internships with Joe Austin can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.