1) Ask Around
TAKE ACTION: Make a list of at least 10 people (professors, parents, friend’s parents, mentors etc.) you know that you want to approach in helping you find an internship. Develop a short script explaining what type of opportunity you are looking for and how they can help you. Keep your script short (under 30 seconds). Tomorrow, start asking around. Getting comfortable talking to others and sharing your goals will come in handy later as you start to build your networking skills.
2) Visit career services on campus
- Find the Office: Find out where your career services office is located. Some universities have career services offices for each college or school, while others have one career services office that services the entire campus.
- Attend the next event: Check the website or ask a staff member when the next internship/career fair will be hosted on campus. Usually, they will have tips and advice available to you on how to make your career fair experience a good one. In addition to internship/career fairs, check the schedule of other career preparation events hosted by the office such as networking events, interview days and resume workshops.
- Make an Appointment: Schedule a time to sit down with a career counselor/advisor to go over your resume, discuss your internship goals and create a plan for finding internships each year and finding a job when you are closer to graduation. You should work with your counselor to update your plan at the beginning of each semester.
- Assess Your Skills: Some offices offer the opportunity for students to take skills assessment tests. If you are still trying to figure out your major and need some career direction, sign up to take a skills assessment and learn what careers you might be best suited for.
3) Don’t Ignore Small Businesses and Non-Profits
TAKE ACTION: Find a small local business or non-profit, do your research and then contact them. Whether you call or send an email, let them know you are a college student looking to do an internship and that you’ve done some research and are very interested in learning how you can intern with their company. If you have visited career services you should have a resume ready to go.
When I was in college, I completed eight internships, some with big companies and some with small. No matter where the internship opportunity is, you have the ability to learn, observe, ask questions, and contribute to a company or organization. If you embrace the opportunity you can come away with what you realize later was your dream internship.
4) Do online searches
There are many job boards where companies post their available internships. You can go to monster.com, careerbuilder.com and indeed.com for starters. But, for a more focused and intentional search there are sites that focus more posting internships including
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the online search options but just these few should get you going. As you compile your list of companies that you are interested in interning for, visit their websites as well. Larger companies post their internships on their own sites, as well as their required internship application, eligibility requirements and application deadlines. Follow the top companies you are interested in on LinkedIn and Twitter. Create a LinkedIn profile today if you don’t’ have one already.
5. Apply to Internship Programs
Since I managed a national internship program I am a firm believer in the opportunities internship programs can provide. There are various programs that provide internships and support to college students. These programs often require a competitive application process to gain admission. The process is worth it considering that the majority of these experiences provide paid internships or stipends and connect you directly to major companies or government agencies. Once a part of a program you generally have the additional advantage of support before, during and after your internship experience. You become a part of a large network that extends beyond your college network. Check out the list on my Internship HQ page.
Extra Tip: If you want to get more in-depth information about each of these steps, including scripts that include exactly what to say when calling or emailing a potential employer, then it is time to buy my book. The Internship Manual: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting the Internship of Your Dreams is your complete resource to finding your dream internship.