Looking for an Internship? You’ve Got This!

Looking for an Internship? You’ve Got This!

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By Alejandra Salas

Not long ago I was on the orientation day of my first semester as an international student, taking notes on how to take advantage of all the resources available for students like the CareerHub. A phrase that I heard there — which, by the way, comes to mind every so often — was to build a professional network in college. This is such an important statement to me because almost two years later I was able to get an internship opportunity based on building a professional network with the Truckee Meadows Community College (TMCC) staff, my hard effort to achieve my academic goals, and overall, the experience and involvement I had during my college journey.

At first, the process of studying abroad, which involves more than just cultural adjustment, can be challenging due to the different exposure we have regarding a new circle of friends, new community, and language. However, in my case, I came with a positive attitude and embraced the “What are the chances? Let's do it” mentality. This type of thinking helped me through my first college semester, and once I felt more comfortable with my schedule and extracurricular activities, I took into consideration finding a job that will let me focus on my studies, yet is related to what I like. Yet, before finding an actual job, I committed myself to a bigger responsibility and became more involved with the architecture student community at TMCC, and suddenly I became the president of the American Institute of Architects Student Club in Northern Nevada. This step helped me to reinforce my professional network and opened the doors to new opportunities and involvement around the architecture community in Reno-Nevada by attending monthly meetings with the AIANN committee. Such exposure and responsibility shaped me to be eager towards the goals I set for myself. 


(From Left to Rights Alejandra Salas and friends at their composition class)

After the first step towards my professional development, I applied for the peer mentoring job for international students at my college, since I felt related to the position. After all, I had a smooth transition from a full-time student to a part-time worker with a big emphasis on class commitment. During my time working for International Student Services at TMCC, I primarily learned communication skills and time management, key factors in my professional development for further job opportunities. I say this because my experience as a peer mentor taught me how to balance job responsibilities with my student life. I take this seriously since I am still on my academic journey, yet ready to practice my career in a real job situation while pursuing my architecture degree. 


(Attending my first Coffee Hour for Hungary as co-host)

Since I got my first job while being a part-time student, I felt ready to take a step further in my career and start applying for internships by the middle of the spring semester. I remember going to my Design with Climate class with instructor Kreg Mebust, who is also involved in the development of the architecture career at TMCC and who  brought up the topic of job opportunities. That morning I felt enlightened and encouraged to take the chance and asked my instructor for further information regarding the job. Luckily I had built a strong relationship with my instructor since I was involved in the AIAS development and earned good grades in his design classes; therefore, I was able to get a recommendation from him and applied for an internship at an architecture firm. Such an opportunity boosted my confidence, not only as an architectural designer in the making but also in my professional skill and performance. 

Even though I am an international student, my design portfolio, creativity, and ambition to gain real-life experience helped me get the internship, and I am beyond happy I took one step further to become the architect I envision myself. My advice to all the students out there that might feel related to my experience or goals is to build your network from the day you start college; every person you meet can connect you with infinite possibilities, just choose wisely and always put your best foot forward to continue with this race called life. 
 classes; therefore, I was able to get a recommendation from him and applied for an internship at an architecture firm. Such an opportunity boosted my confidence, not only as an architectural designer in the making but also in my professional skill and performance. 

Even though I am an international student, my design portfolio, creativity, and ambition to gain real-life experience helped me get the internship, and I am beyond happy I took one step further to become the architect I envision myself. My advice to all the students out there that might feel related to my experience or goals is to build your network from the day you start college; every person you meet can connect you with infinite possibilities, just choose wisely and always put your best foot forward to continue with this race called life. 


Alejandra Salas from Lima, Peru, is an architecture student and International Peer Mentor at Truckee Meadows Community College.