Finding a Job or Internship

Ready to apply to a job or internship, or just want to explore what’s out there? Either way, you’re in the right place. Here’s your guide to finding opportunities and making sure you’re ready. If you’re looking for resources about specific fields of interest, make sure you check out our Career Community hubs, too. For our step-by-step guide with interactive activities, start the Canvas module below.

Jobs, Internships & How to Get Them

Set Up Your Online Presence

First, make sure your online presence is ready for employers! This means updating your LinkedIn and Handshake profiles so employers can find you. These platforms are also great for finding jobs or internships, in addition to job listing sites like Indeed or Monster. If you’re looking for positions with specific employers, be sure to frequently check their specific careers website.

A well-prepared LinkedIn profile is essential when you’re searching for a position. Check out this guide from LinkedIn on how to build out your profile to look professional and prepared.

Handshake is a career platform designed for university students like you. Set up your profile and apply to jobs or internships from 200,000+ employers around the country. You’ll also use Handshake to register for career fairs, employer events, and more.

Breaking Down The Basics

How to Build Skills & Experience While Searching

Internships are great opportunities, but they aren’t the only way to gain practical experience and important skills while in college!

These experiences below don’t necessarily need to be directly connected to the career path you’re interested in to still be hugely valuable on your resume.

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Student Jobs or Part-Time Work

Working on campus or at another part-time job is a great way to build skills and experience in a professional workplace!

Regularly check the UW Student Jobs website or a site like Indeed for opportunities. And remember, you’ll still want to have a great resume and application ready for these positions, so meet with a SuccessWorks advisor and stop by Express Advising during the fall or spring for quick application help.

If you’re interested in scientific research & development, also check out undergraduate research opportunities on campus.


Explore different career options and meet important people that may be useful as contacts for future positions through volunteering. Visit the Morgridge Center for Public Service in the Red Gym and search Handshake or for volunteer opportunities.

Note: Make sure to also attend the Public Service Fair which takes place every fall and spring semester on campus to find volunteer opportunities with local, state and national nonprofit agencies!

Student Organizations

You can often get experience for your resume by volunteering in leadership roles in a student org (and you might even make some valuable connections there, too). Explore student orgs at UW-Madison here.

Create Your Own Job Shadow Opportunities

Job shadowing is a great, low-pressure way to learn about jobs and “test them out.” This is where you follow a professional during part of their workday to get a better understanding of what the job is like. Job shadowing can be for just one day, or over an extended period of time. Here’s a great article on how you can reach out to employers to try and set up a job shadowing opportunity for yourself.

Networking & Events

Don’t forget, you can always learn and build skills by networking with others and participating in programs.

Learn On Your Own

Got some free time and an internet connection? There are lots of ways you can build skills online – here are just a few options.

  • LinkedIn Learning (formerly is a great way to learn software, and it’s free for UW students! 
  • DoIT Classes – free technology and software training for UW students
  • MOOCs – free online courses
  • Practice interview skills with Big Interview or schedule with an advisor

Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate research opportunities are great for your resume and can make a huge difference when applying to graduate school programs.

Check out undergraduate research programs at UW-Madison.

Internships & Resources

Remote Jobs & Internships

Remote internships are a great alternative to in-person internship opportunities that may no longer be available.

Learn More

Community Impact Internships

Get valuable experience at Dane County nonprofits & organizations focused on social justice, arts & humanities.

View Opportunities

Money for Your Internship

The SuccessWorks Internship Fund provides support payments of up to $5,000 to help students participate in internships.

Get Info

Working with Recruiters and Staffing Agencies

Basically, a recruiter or staffing agency’s job is to connect you with other jobs. If you’re struggling to find job openings, or if you want help getting into large companies, they can help with that. Learn more below about how to work with these resources to find your next position.

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Why would I want to work with a recruiter?

Aside from helping connect you with job opportunities, a recruiter can also give you advice on your job search: guidance on preparing for an interview, tips about the company and workplace, or advice on improving your qualifications. It’s in their interest to help you do well because, after all, their goal is to get someone hired into their jobs.

That said, working with a recruiter is easier in some industries. Jobs in the arts or in research may have a hard time finding recruiters with that industry focus. If you’re pursuing a career in a STEM field, consulting, or accounting, you may find that lots of recruiters want to talk to you.

What’s the difference between a Recruiter and a Headhunter?

“Headhunter” usually refers to a recruiter who works on retainer for executive or senior-level candidates. Students likely won’t have much reason to work with a headhunter.

Recruiters are the outward-facing people in an HR department. Their job is to find and interview candidates for open positions within a company. You can think of a recruiter like a matchmaker — their goal is to make sure they find the best person to fill their jobs.

Recruiters might work directly for a company (with the title of Corporate Recruiter), or might work for an outside company that specializes in recruiting (often just called Recruiter). Both have very similar job responsibilities.

What kinds of jobs will a staffing agency have?

Companies will post their job openings on their own website, or on job boards like Handshake or Check out those job postings to see if the company is one you’re interested in working with.

What is a Temp job, and why would I consider one?

There are three ways to categorize a job — Temporary, Temp-to-Hire and Direct Hire. These terms have to do with who your legal employer is; basically, these are about where your paycheck comes from.

  • Direct Hire is what people think of when they are looking for a job. The company wants to hire candidates directly onto their staff, with no expected end date.
  • Temporary jobs (aka Temp) are short-term — anywhere from a few weeks to several months. A company may want Temp help to cover a medical absence, or to help with extra project work. You may also hear temp jobs called “Contract” or “Long-Term Employment” (LTE).
  • Temp-to-Hire jobs start out as Temporary jobs, but the company plans to hire the Temp employee directly if the job fit is good. These are kind of like “trial period” positions, intended to let both you and the employer decide if you belong in the job long-term.

What should I expect if I am working with a recruiter?

When you first talk to a recruiter, expect a 15-30 minute conversation where you explain your work history, experience, skills and job search preferences. This is a good opportunity to use your personal branding preparation in order to present yourself well — make sure the recruiter knows who you are as an employee.

Be honest with a recruiter about your limits. A good recruiter will do their best to listen and work with your limits. Expect an ongoing dialogue to compare what jobs the recruiter brings you and what jobs you are willing to consider.

Expect a recruiter to ask about your pay expectations before they discuss job openings, and well before a job offer exists. Recruiters must provide pay information along with their candidates. Do some research on average salaries for the jobs you’re targeting. Check out our resources section on Negotiation for more info.

Once you’re working with a recruiter, be reachable by phone and email. A recruiter’s work can move quickly – an open job today may be closed tomorrow. If you see communication from your recruiter, move quickly on it to not risk out on losing the opportunity.

How do I find a good recruiter?

A good recruiter should be:

  • Honest and up-front about their capabilities, situation and connections.
  • Open to sharing reasonable information about their clients (e.g. company names and market information).
  • Attentive to candidate concerns/questions. If you express concern about something, a good recruiter will want to understand your concern rather than dismissing it.
  • Have good communication – it’s a problem if you have trouble reaching the recruiter by phone or email.

The best recruiters are proactive and have genuine care for their candidates’ activity. They won’t press you for info that you don’t feel comfortable sharing, and they will have genuine interest in interview prep and support.

Misconceptions about Staffing Agencies

“A staffing agency charges me for their services.” 
FALSE — a recruiter’s services should not cost the candidate anything. A corporate recruiter is part of the company’s HR department. A staffing company makes their money from their client companies, not from their candidates.

“A Temp job is a dead-end when compared to a permanent job.”
FALSE — All work experience is valuable experience! Temp jobs can be a great way to rapidly build work experience, especially if the job gets you experience that you haven’t gotten elsewhere. Keep an open mind, and develop parallel plans just in case things don’t go as expected.

Temp only means the job has an expected end date. The end date may be flexible, or there might not even be an end date, depending on circumstances. There are lots of stories about people who took a Temp job, and found themselves staying in the career for decades!
Your recruiter should be able to answer your questions about terms of employment and expected end dates. It’s okay to ask about the end date, but also keep in mind that circumstances can change.

“I should work with as many recruiters as I can find.” 
FALSE – You only need one recruiter contact per company, or staffing company, since companies share information internally.

When working with staffing recruiters, it is critical to make sure that your resume isn’t being submitted to the same job by different recruiters. This is called a double submittal – it’s common practice to disqualify or reject a resume that appears multiple times from different sources. The recruiter doesn’t know what jobs you’ve applied to, other than what they’ve shown you — it’s important that you do the tracking to make sure this doesn’t happen.

A good rule of thumb is to have at most 2-3 staffing recruiters working with you. Pay attention to each recruiter’s strengths and weaknesses so as to not overlap too much. This will ensure a good job search process both for you and the recruiter(s) you are working with.

“The recruiter does everything for me – I just need to sit back and wait for them to find me a job.” 
FALSE – a recruiter’s job for the candidate is to add to the job search process, but the recruiter will not do everything for you. You still need to review the job description. You will need to present your personal brand to the recruiter so they understand you. You will need to research the company and prepare for the interview. Ultimately, you are the one who has to get the job!

Getting Prepared

Before you apply, you’re going to want to make sure you have a well-prepared resume and cover letter ready to submit. Check out our guide to resumes and cover letters, and for personalized advice and a review of your application materials, chat with an advisor at Express Advising or an appointment – we’re here to help!

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How to Set Up Your Work References

References are professionals, selected by you, who can speak to your unique skill set, work habits, personality, and other job qualifications.

Who to Ask
  • It is common for an employer to ask you to provide three to five references. When thinking about who to choose as a reference select individuals who can attest to your work skills, abilities, and style.
  • Examples of appropriate references include a current or recent supervisor, faculty members, advisors, co-workers, or individuals you’ve worked with in organizations.
Communicating with References
  • Before providing a list of potential references to an employer, be sure to ask for their permission.
  • It is good to provide your references with a copy of your current resume and details about the position you are applying for so they are better prepared to answer any inquires.
  • List references on a separate sheet from your resume, while staying consistent in your formatting, using the same header as your resume.
  • For each reference list their name, title, work address, work phone number, and email address.

Career & Internship Advisors

Kathleen Rause

Position title: Associate Director of Internship Programs & Career Advisor: Nonprofit Management & Education


Maureen Muldoon

Position title: Career & Internship Specialist: Healthcare & Human Services


Emmeline Prattke

Position title: Career & Internship Specialist: Government, Policy, International Affairs, & Law


Beth Karabin

Position title: Career & Internship Specialist: Technology, Data & Analytics


Hao Yuan

Position title: Career & Internship Specialist: Scientific Research & Development, Technology, Data & Analytics


Megan Aley

Position title: Associate Director of Career Advising & Communities/Career & Internship Specialist: Communications, Entertainment, & the Arts


Matt Delaney

Position title: Associate Director of Career Advising & Communities/Career & Internship Specialist: Consulting, Finance, Management, & Client Relations


15-Minute Express Advising

Looking for a quick overview of how SuccessWorks can help you, or a fast review of your resume or cover letter? Try 15-minute Express Advising throughout the week! (Appointment slots open 4 days in advance when classes are in session).

Try Express Advising