As spring semester kicks into high gear, Richmond students are already looking forward to the next chapter of 2013: three sunny and homework-free months of summer break.

Although classes end in May, many Richmond students will continue to work throughout the summer at internships around the country and internationally, said Katybeth Lee, manager of internship programs at Richmond's Office of Alumni and Career Services.

Summer internships are a national trend among undergraduate students, and this tendency holds true at Richmond, Lee said.

An internship that provides professional work experience and helps establish valuable industry relationships before graduation is ideal, but the process of securing such an opportunity can be confusing and anxiety-inducing.

As January comes to a close, many students are starting to feel the need to make concrete internship plans, including juniors Alexa Gowdy and Alicia Tamarkin.

Gowdy said she had felt extremely pressured to find an internship because of the competitive job market, parental expectations and resume boosting.

Tamarkin, who is in the process of applying for a summer accounting internship in Columbus, Ohio, is also stressed about getting an internship because not having one will make it harder to find a job after graduation, she said.

As the weeks fly by, it may seem as though there is barely any time left to find an internship, but Lee and the other career advisers will be available to help guide students through the search and application processes in the coming weeks.

"The way you look for an internship depends on what you want to get out of it," Lee said. "The most important thing to consider is what you want to experience, and we can help create a plan to accomplish those goals."

Networking is a vital strategy to start with, Lee said. In addition to the social connections made through family and friends, the Richmond community is an essential networking resource, she said. The university's LinkedIn group, University of Richmond Career Connections, allows students to contact fellow undergraduates or alumni, and has been a source for summer internships in the past.

Along with its various online and in-office resources, Career Services will be hosting a summer internship workshop on Feb. 5 for all students, Lee said. Lee and her colleagues will talk about two main strategies that people can use to find internships, which will split the workshop into two groups.

For students more concerned about making money this summer, the university has initiated UR Summer Fellowships to help finance unpaid internships. Students in an unfunded or minimally funded opportunity are eligible to apply, and financial aid is not a factor, Lee said. The only requirement is that the student works at least 240 hours throughout the summer, she said.

Despite all the stress that may come with applying, a summer internship is ultimately a win-win situation for both students and employers, Lee said.

"You kind of get to try each other out and see if you like it or not," Lee said. "Even if you don't end up loving the internship, it's important to establish connections and network."

Lee's internship workshop will take place in THC 346 from 4 to 5 p.m. on Feb. 5.

Contact reporter Gaby Calabrese at gaby.calabrese@richmond.edu