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


Your Job Search Checklist

  1. Explore Career Options: Know what types of jobs/internships you’re interested in! Use our online resources and try the Career Interests Quiz.
  2. Create Your Toolkit: Write a great resume and set up your online presence to help get your application noticed.
  3. Build Experiences: Add to your resume and skills with internships, part-time or student jobs, research, student orgs, volunteering & networking.
  4. Get a Job or Internship: Make sure you know best practices for searching for and applying to opportunities.

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.

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.

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.

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.

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

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. You can also check out volunteer opportunities at UW-Madison here!

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.

Find student research positions on campus on the UW Student Jobs portal.

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


It’s time to click the submit button! The majority of applications are done online, either through Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) or direct emails. An Applicant Tracking System is a system that compiles all application material, automates emails, screens resumes, and provides a way for a large company, like Apple, to manage large amounts of application material. 

Here are a few tips when applying to positions:

  • Always follow the instructions on the job description (yes, it can be frustrating having to re-renter all of your resume info into fields, but if you don’t do this your application might not be reviewed!)
  • You don’t need to meet every qualification on a position listing to apply! If you meet around 50 – 60% of the qualifications, you can still apply.
  • Highlight experiences and skills you have that align with the job qualifications.
  • Customize your resume and cover letter if possible to show how you fit the specific role. This also shows employers that you’re detail oriented and are really interested in the opportunity.

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

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. Employers will let you know when they’d like you to provide references (most often sometime later in the hiring process), so don’t send your list of references until asked. But it’s a good idea to have them ready ahead of time to make sure you’re prepared.

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, email address, and your relationship to that person (e.g. current supervisor, past supervisor, colleague, etc.)

Want personalized help & advice?

Job search and application processes can be different depending on the industry or job type. Make an appointment with one of our advisors for help with any part of this process!