ACUHO-I Internship Series Part 1: Preparing to Apply

This post is one in a five part series on securing a summer internship in college housing and residence life through the ACUHO-I’s Housing Internship Program. It is written from the perspective of a former ACUHO-I Intern. The series will walk you through the process from beginning to end providing tips and tricks along the way.

Preparing to Apply | Targeting and Applying To Schools | Accepting and Preparing for Interviews | Interviewing | Navigating Offers

The ACUHO-I Housing Internship Program is a process that many students use to find and apply for summer internships in college hosing and residence life departments. The portal has hundreds of posts from different institutions, so no matter what your interests are or where you want to go, there is something for everyone. The internships can vary in length but they typically run eight to twelve weeks depending on the host’s and candidate’s start and end dates. During those weeks interns can gain experience to help them further their career goals and get a opportunity to work with possible future employers. 

As a current and now former ACUHO-I intern myself, I know the process can seem overwhelming and confusing at first. This blog series is intended to help! The first step in the process is…

Preparing to Apply

1. Know The Timeline

Timelines are essential for staying on track and holding yourself accountable. Therefore, if you have an interest in applying through the ACUHO-I Housing Internship program, I would highly recommend staying on top of the important dates and deadlines. The ACUHO-I internship website provides a timeline of important dates and deadlines throughout the application process. This timeline is usually updated in December, so keep an eye out for it! Even if the timeline hasn’t been updated yet, the timeline from the year prior can be a good blueprint for what to expect for the upcoming year.

One trick that helped me get ahead was completing tasks that I knew I needed at some point in the process, but could be done ahead of time. I utilized a planner and my online work calendar to hold myself accountable. Putting deadlines on my work calendar and sharing them with my supervisor allowed her to help me stay on track and support me throughout the process. This saved me time and stress from the beginning of the process to the end.

2. Update Your Resume

Updating a resume is a task that everyone participating in this process will need to do. This is one task you can work on right away. I began my resume updates in late October. Starting early on this task allowed me the opportunity to reach out to others for help.

When it comes to asking for help with resumes, use the resources around you. Reach out to mentors, supervisors, peers, and your campus career center for help. You can also find an example of a student affairs resume online at HigherEdJobs. Not everyone’s resume is going to look alike. We all have different experiences and different skills that make us who we are as a professional. Make sure to pick a resume style that fits your needs. Trying to tackle the entire resume, all at once, can sometimes be overwhelming. One tip is to focus on editing your resume section by section.

Roompact Topics - ACUHOI Summer Internship Resources

Check out our curated resources to help you in your ACUHO-I Summer Internship search!

3. Know What You Want Out Of The Experience

People apply to the ACUHO-I Housing Internship program for different reasons. Some candidates have previous experience and might want to learn more, whereas others might want to broaden their experience, particularly if they worked in areas outside of housing and residence life. There are hundreds of internships available through the ACUHO-I process and there are likely many that may be a good fit for you. Going in with a general idea of your goals for the internship can help you navigate these faster and more intelligently.

One thing I found helpful was spending some time before applying to reflect on what I wanted out of the experience. Some questions you may want to ask yourself include:

  • What do I hope to accomplish with an internship?
  • What academic goals/career objectives do I want to work towards?
  • What interests do I want to explore?
  • What skills do I want to build upon and utilize?

4. Set Up Your Profile

Once you have created an account with the ACUHO-I internship portal, paid the fee, and signed in, you need to create a candidate profile. When creating your profile, set aside an allotted amount of time to ensure you can fill it out at your own pace. In my experience, I blocked an hour and an additional half hour for my supervisor to review it with me. I found that having a second person review my profile ensured I was representing myself as best as I could. 

Although the profile is mostly basic information, there are questions that will be asked that you should think about ahead of time. The following are some of the questions you should ask yourself prior to filling out your profile:

  • What is the earliest date you can start your internship?
  • What is the latest date you can end your internship?
  • Do you prefer a virtual/offsite internship or an in person/onsite internship?
  • What type of institution do you want to intern at? (e.g. public, private, HBCU, Rual, Urban)
  • What is your preferred host size (enrollment, bed capacity, etc.)?
  • What area(s) of professional experience/functional activities do you seek to engage in as part of your internship?
  • Are you interested in internship opportunities that take place outside of the United States?

5. Prepare Your Candidate Statement

The ACUHO-I portal describes the candidate statement as your “elevator pitch” or who you are and what you want out of an internship. The candidate statement is the first part of your ACUHO-I profile that internship hosts can view. Therefore, spend some time to create the best representation of yourself that you can. Make it original, make it stand out, and above all, make it demonstrate who you are as a candidate.

This statement should not only embody who you are as a person and a professional but also who you strive to be. In your statement make sure to discuss why you want an internship, your experiences and interests in the field, and what learning goals you are hoping to achieve. The candidate statement is only about 1200 characters long. Make it short, sweet, and clear. Always remember to read it over and have others proofread it as well! 

Below is the outline I used when I crafted my own candidate statement: 

  • Start with who you are and what you currently do.
  • Explain your background and experiences.
  • Explain your passion and interest.
  • Wrap up with your reason behind wanting an ACUHO-I internship, what you want to accomplish through this experience and how those goals fit with your future career plans.

The next post in this series will go over targeting and applying to schools.

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