Seeking an internship

Market Research and Job Search

Market Research

Once you have conducted your self-assessment and identified the work-learning experience(s) that you will need to build your resume and reputation for post-graduate employment, you will need to research the market and conduct a job search within your field of choice.

Remember, you are conducting this research at least one semester, or 4-6 months prior to the semester which you will participate in an internship and the PAF484/584 Internship course.

To determine your internship search parameters you will consider the following:

Positions - the work you want to do

What is the work you want to do? What skills do you want to learn or put into practice?

For example - If you want to "help people", consider how you can help people in your community (academic, geographical/home, faith or interest group or organization)?  Is there a special population (children, families, refugees or ethnic group) with whom you would like to work and learn about?

Other examples:

  • Is there a special issue (concern, problem or solution) that you would like to work on - economic development,  transportation, social justice?
  • Do you share an area of interest with other community members - sustainability? environment?  education? healthcare? policy-making?

Your job seeking goal is to use your interests, skill sets, and motivation to develop a list(s) to focus your research.

Places - prospective or target agencies and organizations

What agencies, organizations or companies hire individuals to do the work you want to do?  What workplace/environment would you like to experience?

For example -

  • Research to identify places who are hiring college graduates.  Places who have created entry positions and training programs to help students make the jump to young professional.
  • Government is BIG. Are you interested in work at the local (city or county), state, or federal level?  There are opportunities at each level of government that can provide similar or different work-learning experiences for your exploration and learning. 
  • Can you identify the various departments within a city whose work interests you or has an impact in your community?  And within those departments, funded projects that you care about? They need your research, problem-solving, communications and leadership skills.  And you could learn how government works, or about intergovernmental or international relations.
  • Nonprofit organizations are no different.  They need individuals with skills to perform specific functions - communications (internal and external) and marketing, education and outreach, advocacy, fundraising, grant writing, events planning and management. 
  • Perhaps you are interested in understanding intergovernmental relations, business policy or law-making from the perspective of private-public partnerships. 

Your job seeking goal is to develop a list(s) of the agencies and organizations whose mission and vision fit yours, those who have a need for your skills and abilities, those that support education and training for prospective and current employees.

People - who do you know or need to know

Who is doing work you admire?  Who has influenced your previous or present school, work, and community involvement?  Who is championing or leading projects, activities, and movements that speak to you?

Some activities to learn about people doing what you aspire to do:

  • Read about organizations of interest and their leaders, project champions and successes in shaping policy and best practices for improving our communities.
  • Follow agencies, organizations and professional groups and individuals on social media
  • Join a university or professional clubs of like-minded individuals, such as the ASU-ICMA (International City-County Management Association), the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (national or your local city), the ASU Parks and Recreation Studnet Association (PRSA), the ASU American Red Cross Chapter...
  • Conduct information interviews with ASU and School of Public Affairs alumni and young professionals in the fields or functional areas of work within public service

Develop a list(s) of people leading projects, departments, and divisions, at places you would like to check out, doing work that helps you build skills and knowledge for your successful career launch or advancement after graduation.

Recommended Tools for Conducting Research


ASU has invested in an e-recruiting tool called, Handshake.  Handshake offers a job postings feature and an employer profiles section, among other information.  Both are easy ways for you to explore who is hiring college students and graduates, and what career skills and competencies they seek in qualified candidates.  Using this tool to get started will help you focus your search on qualifying professional development opportunities across the U.S. and around the world.

Not all job postings, in fact not many, will describe the perfect fit for your interests and goals.  Keep your mind open and learn who is looking for help, what skills these potential employers need, and what work-learning opportunities will get you where you want to go.  That is, prepare you to be the best-qualified candidate at graduation to make the transition to the career or graduate program you choose.

Agency and organization websites, their Social Media and Press

Use the webpages of the various agencies - city, county, state or federal government, nonprofit organizations, quasi-government, public-private or public-nonprofit partnerships, or private companies.  You will find information on mission and values, strategic and current initiatives and programs, departments, positions, and even current press about the agency on their webpages and social media

The SPA Internship and Career e-Bulletin

this is a bi-weekly e-bulletin that is sent directly to students of the School of Public Affairs and features work-learning and employment announcements from established government agencies and nonprofit organizations, and those developed by the internship coordinator, faculty, and alumni of the School.  Make sure your academic advisor and the internship coordinator have your preferred email at the start of each semester.

LinkedIn - Profile, Search and Alumni Tools

Setting up an account (linked to a Gmail account just for this purpose) and using the powerful algorithms of this social media platform will give you a decided edge in identifying relevant opportunities - positions, places and people - that fit your career interests and goals.

Use the LinkedIn Profile Checklist for Students (provide in the Resource Guide on the introduction to internship webpage, and contact the  internship coordinator for tips on using the 'alumni tool', to boost your professional presence and attract the work you want to do to you.

You can also find other focused resources on these SPA Internship webpages, as part of the Resource Guide provided on the first/overview webpage, or on the University Career and Professional Development Services webpages at


Job Search

Once you’ve determined your internship search parameters you will need the following self-marketing tools to succeed in your search for internship matching your interests, skills, and values with qualified opportunities to build skills, gain experience and test-drive your next professional development opportunity.

  • written resume 
  • letters of introduction (application, prospecting, referral)
  • verbal 60-second networking introduction
  • LinkedIn account and profile                  
  • professional interview basics and practice
  • appropriate dress and grooming

To learn how to market yourself consider using the resources provided by the University first.  Both the School of Public Affairs and University Career and Professional Development Services office offer a wide variety of workshops, webinars, worksheets, events and activities, developed with ASU students and the employers who recruit them in mind.  You can access these resources here, by request at, or at

Give yourself 2-3 weeks to explore using these tools and resources. 

When you are comfortable that you have explored a variety of options and have developed your target lists of positions, places, and people to pursue, and have prepared a draft resume and letter outlining your interests, skills and motivation, contact the SPA Internship Coordinator to schedule a follow up coaching session to your Internship Intake Interview. 

During a follow-up appointment the SPA Internship Coordinator will assist you in tailoring these tools to your career goals, confirm their completion and your preparedness for the next steps in the search -  applying, interviewing and accepting an offer of internship. 

Have you been selected for an internship or identified another qualifying work-learning opportunity?  Then you are ready for the next step.

Securing an internship