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Landing Impactful Internships


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Philip (Phil) Wilkerson is an employer engagement consultant at GMU Career Services. He serves as a liaison between employers and the GMU community to help the school match students with internships and jobs.

In this episode of Motivational Mondays, he shares why landing impactful internships is an important part of your career trajectory.

How Phil Supports Marginalized Groups

Phil grew up in Northern Virginia and graduated from James Madison University. Some educators went above and beyond to support him with career preparation (like crafting resumes and cover letters and landing internships). When he started working at George Mason University (GMU), supporting Black students happened organically.

In the summer of 2019, Phil was approached to be the faculty advisor for the NAACP and he believes it changed the trajectory of his life. He realized that supporting and advocating for Black students could be as simple as being accessible. He notes that his life came full circle and he’s becoming one of the people who helped him get where he is.

Landing Impactful Internships Influences Career Development

Phil’s office has career advisors who meet with students one-on-one. As an employer engagement consultant, Phil is a liaison between students and employers looking to recruit. He’s attuned to what’s happening in the university and skilled at building bridges.

He says that you shouldn’t wait to land an internship and instead, dive into experiential learning. He wants his students to have at least two meaningful experiences outside the classroom by the time they graduate. Internships allow you to take what you’ve learned and gain hands-on, real-world experience.

Phil oversees media, arts, entertainment, journalism, PR, graphic design, sports & recreation, hospitality & tourism, and technology & engineering. Because various industries can mesh with various experiences, Phil works to educate both sides on who might be a good fit for specific roles.

The Power of Goal-Setting Through Visualization

Phil believes that a vision board serves as a psychological trigger to remind you to take action and follow through. When creating his first vision board, he thought it was corny, but he committed to the process alongside a friend to stay accountable.

After one year, he hit the “Forty Under 40” list for GMU Black Alumni and “Forty Under Forty” for the Northern Virginia area through the Leadership Center for Excellence. Everyone dreams, but few people turn their dreams into reality. Visualization can help you move toward your goals.

Phil put the word “kindness” on his vision board. Any time he found himself frustrated, he looked at that word and asked himself: “Is the thing I’m about to say or do kind?” The answer to that question often changed his next step.

Listen to this episode to learn about...

[2:25] The purpose of Phil’s podcast, Positive Philter
[6:05] How Phil supports marginalized groups
[12:18] How landing internships influences career development
[16:02] The range of industries Phil works with 
[19:54] Mason Chooses Kindness: A strong leader is a kind leader
[23:12] The power of long-term goal-setting through visualization

Listen to the bonus episode to learn about Phil’s interest in Afro-futurism and hear more about his podcast.