Oberlin Blogs

Junior Year Internships

January 30, 2022

Charlize Villasenor ’23

The summer after junior year is an important time to network and get work experience through internships. Since I’m working on my (final!) winter term, I’m hoping I can have two internships this year. For winter term this year, I’m working with Coalition for Economic Survival as a Tenant Organizer Intern. I’ve applied to over a dozen summer internships recently through SEO Career, so I’ll talk about my experience with that as well even though I’m still in the middle of the process.

I’ve been interning with CES for about a week now, but I’ve already been able to learn and experience a few different things. I’ve sat in on meetings with as many as 200 participants from all over California coming together for the shared goal of ensuring people stay housed, and I’ve gone to staff meetings that are CES-exclusive with fewer than 10 people. Oberlin College and Occidental College are two of the main colleges that have students intern with CES, so I’m interning at the same time as another student from Oxy and I’m able to network with her. My supervisor and my coworkers are amicable and willing to answer any questions I have which has made me eager to learn from them. Aside from learning about housing issues and laws in California through meetings, I’ve also been able to sit in and shadow various attorneys at tenants’ rights clinics and listen to what issues tenants are facing firsthand. This has been quite different from my past internship experience, as I was working primarily with contracts rather than clients face to face, so it has been exciting to see the legal profession in another way. One thing that I’ve begun to train for but have not started to actually do yet is phone bank. So part of my internship has involved learning the phone banking software so I can call residents of Los Angeles County and see if they are renters and need information on the recent changes in tenant protections or if they possibly need legal assistance. I’ve never had the opportunity to work with phone banking before this internship, so I’m particularly excited about it. Though my winter term internship will only last a few weeks, I know I’ll finish it with more knowledge than when I started.

Summer internships typically run for nine to twelve weeks, so there is more time to learn various skills and improve them. I’ve recently gained interest in data analytics through my econometrics class, so I’m hoping to accept an internship that focuses on that or other related fields. Some applications have been open as early as October, but I’ve mostly applied to internships in the month of January since that’s when the fall semester ended this year. Going through the internship openings and reading the requirements has allowed me to see what strengths and weaknesses I have, and how I can improve my resume. For example, I have learned how to use Rstudio and Stata in my Statistics and Econometrics classes (respectively), and that is something employers like to see, but I do not have any experience in Python or SQL, so that is something that I could work on. Since I already have R and Stata as a foundation, I don’t believe it’ll be too difficult to transfer my skills to Python or SQL. I’m hoping to land an internship in a city like Chicago, Austin, Dallas, or possibly New York City, since there is a chance to be offered a full time position after graduation, but I am open to living in most cities. Oberlin alumni have also been helpful in sending internship opportunities to the department chair so that students can hear about these opportunities, and connecting or posting on LinkedIn, so this has expanded the chance of me landing a summer internship even further. Although I’m slightly worried about summer internships since I haven’t solidified an offer yet, I know that whatever is in my best interest and is meant to happen will happen.

Winter term is always an exciting time for Oberlin students, and as I get closer to graduation, I’m starting to see how important it can be when networking with companies or students from across the country. This is my last required winter term, and might be my final winter term overall, so I’m glad I’m enjoying the experience and grateful I had the chance to choose between more than one employer. I’m crossing my fingers for a summer internship in data analytics or a related field, but in the worst-case scenario, I can still use the summer to strengthen my technical skills on my own and improve my resume. Who knows, maybe my next post will be an internship announcement!

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