Internships are crucial in gaining real world experience and landing that first job out of college. Beginning your research early and designating time each week can pay off in the long run, securing the perfect internship for you. While internships may not always be paid or your “ideal” job, they teach you valuable skills and provide you with more insight into what you want or don’t want in a job after graduation.
Back to the Basics
The internship process can be overwhelming, and even with a chosen major you may not know exactly what you want to do. The best way to begin your search is from the very basics:
- Write down your interests. What do you ultimately hope to gain from your experience?
- Visit your career center on campus for advice. Ask if there are internships available on campus during the summer months.
- Seek advice from professors and talk to your advisor on how an internship may be turned into academic credit.
- Narrow your search by targeting a specific future career path and location that best suit your interests and field.
- Submit your résumé to be proofread and edited to a professor or English department. (See Writing Workshop section below for more information).
This stage requires time and dedication. Start early, check deadlines and chip away at your search rather than putting it off to the last minute. If there is a certain company you are interested in, don’t be afraid to contact that employer personally. Intern positions are not always listed on a company’s webpage, so call and inquire information or email them a copy of your resume for review. Most importantly, tell them how you can help their company by working there. Make use of personal references and recommendations along with social media sites such as LinkedIn to look for possible alumni connections as well. Never be afraid to put yourself out there. Getting your foot in the door by networking is a key element in securing any internship.
Both resumes and cover letters require many revisions and attention to detail, but the more work you put into them now, the less stressful it will be when applying for real jobs as graduation approaches. There are generally several workshops held on campus for those students starting from scratch or for those tweaking their existing resume and cover letter. Either way, getting as many people as possible to look over your resume is the best way to get the most advice, ensuring your resume is ready to be viewed by potential employers.
Send and Wait
There is no limit in applying for internships, so any and all prospective positions are fair game! There is one stipulation: make sure to tailor each resume and cover letter to match the job description of the position you are applying for. Be patient, but do follow up with a short email if you have not heard back from an employer after an appropriate length of time.
If you land an interview from one of your prospective internships, this is your time to shine. Do your homework, research the company, and be sure to come up with at least three solid questions to ask the employer. The interview should be a conversation, and having something to contribute will highlight your best attributes. And of course, make sure to read blogs and tips from other professionals on what to do, and what not to do in an interview. Finally, send a written note or email to your interviewers thanking them for the time they took out of their schedule to meet with you.
Best of luck! Here are some useful websites on finding internships and interviewing tips:
Melinda Boisjolie, NACAC Communications Intern 2011–2012
Back to: Preparing for Life After College