Oberlin | College & Conservatory

Office of Career Services

Winter Term Internship Program

Winter Term 2012

Career Services Connects Oberlin Students and Alumni through Winter Term Internships

The Domes

Oberlin College students Anna Aronowitz ’14 and Uma Venkatraman ’15 in one of the Baggins End domes at UC Davis. The pair worked with Isabel Call ’05 on sustainability projects during Winter Term. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo

Oberlin's Winter Term internship program gives students a chance to spend three or four weeks with a variety of organizations across the United States and beyond. While Oberlin students have been participating in internships for years, the Office of Career Services began its structured program in 2000/2001, coordinating 39 placements. The scope of the program has more than doubled since then, with 114 students interning at 77 different sites during January 2012.

One of the main objectives of the Winter Term internship program is to provide guided experiential learning opportunities for the participants. As Richard Berman, the new director of the Office of Career Services, explains, “internships are invaluable experiences not only for job acquisition, but also to provide students the opportunity to explore a field as a potential career path during a short trial period.”

While there has been some discussion in the media about the misuse of unpaid internships, Oberlin’s program works hard to avoid these issues. Drawing largely on alumni, parents, and other friends of the college, Career Services tries to insure that WT internships are meaningful and challenging. "Site supervisors and interns sign a learning agreement at the beginning of the internship," explains Donna Russell, who coordinates the Winter Term internship program. "We also encourage regular review and feedback sessions to ensure that students are on track with their learning goals." If there is a problem, Donna is available to help resolve any issues, but "that's only happened on a couple of rare occasions," she notes. The vast majority of students report that their internship experience helped them gain important skills, and felt that they were able to take on significant responsibilities and perform work that had real value to the organization.

As an added benefit, the WT internship program helps foster connections between students and alumni, engaging alumni in the life of the college and helping students to begin forging career networks.  Alumni interested in mentoring may continue to serve as resources for the students they supervise long after the internships are over, and students are able to start developing networks in their fields of interest.


“Thank you for continuing to send bright, energetic, and hardworking interns to the office. It truly makes a difference in terms of what we are able to accomplish for the month, and I hope is a mutually rewarding learning experience for the interns.”

- Gabrielle Brown ’05
New York City Bar Association

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Tips for Attracting a Strong Applicant Pool

While many students gravitate towards internships in New York or DC, there are plenty of students who are willing to look farther afield for the right position. Here are some suggestions for pitching your site to potential candidates:

  • Details, Details: Include as much information as you can about your organization and the position(s) you’re offering. The more students know about the opportunity, the easier it is for them to decide whether it’s a good fit for them. A captivating title will also help draw their attention.
  • Sell your city: If you’re not in a major metropolitan area, be sure to provide some highlights about amenities and resources in your area. Is there a great arts district? Easy public transportation? Be sure to mention it in your description.
  • Be flexible: If practical, offer some leeway for potential interns to find their own niche. If you can suggest several different possible projects for one or more interns, you increase the chance of finding a great fit.
  • What Housing Bubble? The greatest challenge for interns is securing affordable housing, so sites that can offer some sort of housing accommodation often get preference. Contact the alumni group in your area and encourage members to consider offering housing. Or perhaps someone at your organization has a spare bedroom they could rent for the month.
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“One of my very first internships as an Oberlin student was with a record label, and it was invaluable in introducing me to the music business and plugging me into a network of important business contacts. I still am benefiting from the connections I made during that Winter Term over 11 years ago.”

- Ellen Stanley ’01
Director of Publicity & Promotions
Red House Records

Offer an Internship for 2013

If you have an internship opportunity to offer for January 2013, post it on ObieOpps any time before October 3, 2012. Check out the information on our website, or contact Donna Russell, assistant director in the Office of Career Services, at 440-775-8140 or internships@oberlin.edu if you have questions.

WT 2013 Timeline

Employers post internship opportunities in ObieOpps
mid-Aug thru Oct 3, 2012

Application deadline for students
Nov 5, 2012

Employers review applications and rank candidates
Nov 6 - 15, 2012

Last day for employers to make offers/rank alternates
Nov 15, 2012

Last day for students to accept offers
Nov 19, 2012

Employers and interns discuss logistics and expectations
December 2012

Winter Term Internships (actual dates may vary)
Jan 3 - 28, 2013

Learning agreements due
Jan 9, 2013

Evaluations due
Jan 28, 2013

“It has not only been an amazing Winter Term, but may also hugely impact what I decide to do in the future.”

- Alokik Mishra ’15
Intern with the AFL-CIO in Washington, DC

WT 2012 At a Glance

  • 114 students interned at 77 different sites in 20 states as well as Senegal and Mongolia. There were four virtual internships.
  • 92% of students said they would recommend their internship experience to other students.
  • 92% of students received ratings of “outstanding” or “very good” in supervisor evaluations.
  • Regions with the most internships were NYC, DC, and CA.
  • Fields with the most internships included publishing, arts, law/advocacy, environment, and education.

WT in the News

Got Room? House an Obie

Finding a place to stay is often the biggest hurdle for students considering an internship, and we're extremely grateful for the many alums, parents, and other friends of Oberlin who offer temporary housing to students for winter term and and/or summer internships.

If you are considering offering housing for an intern, you can find guidelines, tips, and a sign up form on our Temporary Housing web page.

“We have hosted several Oberlin students over the years. Our students have been lovely and we've enjoyed the experience. It's a great way to meet new people while helping out.”

- The Bertsche Family
Chicago, IL

The Winter Term Update is published once a year. To reach the editor, please email oberlin.careers@oberlin.edu.
Oberlin College © 2012