Working Warriors: Olivia Belshaw ’21 on Finding an Internship

Olivia Belshaw, Class of 2021, has been quite involved as a Merrimack student serving as an First-Year Experience mentor, a Compass Program peer leader, and in Relay for Life. Her internship as a Special Events and Walks for Greater Boston and Plymouth at the Alzheimer’s Association was from May 26th until July 29th. Her position was financially supported by the Merrimack Non-Profit Internship Program thanks to The Yawkey Foundation grant. She is a Human Development and Human Services major.

Q: Can you talk about the process of finding and applying for your internship?

A: When beginning the process of applying for internships for the summer of 2020, I was able to meet with Sarah Mackler, my career advisor, to go over my resume and get tips on how to search and apply to each internship. I also attended the career fair as well as going through the Handshake website. I found the position at the Alzheimer’s Association on the O’Brien Center’s Instagram page, which then took me to Handshake in order to complete the application. I applied on March 26th and was offered the position about a month later. Starting the process of finding an internship can be both stressful and scary, but a piece of advice that I would give is to keep your options open. Even if the position is not everything you want, that does not mean you are going to hate it. Instead you will be able to learn about what you are looking for in your future career and what you want to stay away from.

Q: What was the interview process like?

A: I was definitely more prepared this summer to start the interview process, as this was my second internship with the Alzheimer’s Association. Some questions that I was asked were:

  • Can you tell me about your resume?
  • Why are you interested in this position?
  • What is your time commitment?
  • Have you had an internship in the past?
  • What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are you expecting to take away from your time at the association?

When going into the interview, I wanted to make sure I was completely prepared. I looked up interview questions and answered them before the interview to make sure I was ready for anything. One tip I would give to a fellow Merrimack student is to stay calm because they want to get to know you just as much as you want to know about the position. They are aware that interviews can be stressful.

Q: Can you explain your day-to-day job responsibilities?

A: Going into this internship I was nervous about the work I would be taking on, but the job description gave great detail which helped me to prepare. Also, I was nervous that I would not know how to do a certain task and that it would make it more stressful for them. Especially with everything going on with COVID-19 I wanted to help them instead of making things more complicated. In that way, my expectations were different, as the colleagues I am working with have helped me through everything so far. They are also aware that this is a different set up compared to having an internship in person. I wish I had gotten myself more familiar with Excel and Google sheets before starting because that is where they keep a lot of their information. However, I was prepared to make calls as that was a big part of my internship last summer. Knowing how to talk with people on the phone and being able to respond in different situations is key.

Q: How was Merrimack able to help prepare you?

A: I could not have gone through the internship process without the help and guidance from Merrimack. I was able to get a lot of different information from Handshake, the O’Brien Center’s Instagram, and the career fair. I also found it helpful to meet with my career advisor, Sarah Mackler, as she helped me land my position at the Association last summer.

Q: Is there any advice you have for Merrimack students with regard to career development, interviewing or applying for positions?

A: When you are starting the process of finding an internship or a job, it is important to use all the resources that Merrimack provides. Meeting with my career advisor helped ease my stress, and I was able to collect a lot of great information. Also attending the career fair helped me because I was able to talk with companies in person before applying.

By Marge Dwyer
Marge Dwyer Director of Communication & Events Marge Dwyer