It’s internship season! It’s Always internship season – summer, fall, winter, spring. So the first question you may have right now is, how do I find an internship? I have 5 proven search strategies that helped me find 8 internships when I was in college. I’ve shared these same tips with thousands of students I placed with major media companies when I was the senior manager of a national internship program. There are obviously more than 5 ways to find an a internship but this is just a place to get you started.
1) Ask Around
Approach your college professors, department heads and administrators and let them know what type of internships you are looking for. They may have professional contacts that they can connect you with in the industry you are exploring. I landed one of my best internships through one of my communications professors who connected me to the right person. I landed an on campus internship using the same tactic of just asking and letting the right people know what type of opportunity I was looking for. Also, if you have a professor who is part-time or an adjunct, it is possible that they could be looking for an intern for their other employer or own business. Go beyond the college community and ask your friends parents, mentors and other professionals you know too.
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
When was the last time you stopped by your university career services office? Your college career center can be an exceptional resource for finding internships. Career centers have onsite interview days, career fairs
, internship postings and a vast array of resources at your disposal. You have access to the all of those tools for free (well, of course you are paying tuition).
Career fairs offer you the chance to get beyond email and get valuable face time with hiring professionals. Use these opportunities to your advantage, and use your career services center as a part of your internship search team.
- 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 ultimately finding a job. 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
Meaningful and amazing internship experiences do have to come from a companies with 5,000+ employees. In a previous post, Not Everyone Can Intern at Google
, I wrote about why you should look at small companies for internships. There are so many smaller companies with 5-500 employees who gladly welcome interns into their operations. Size alone doesn’t dictate the quality and opportunity of an internship experience.
Smaller companies and non-profit organizations, can often be a great resume boost and opportunity for that first internship. More competitive internships often require previous internship experience or are reserved for upperclassmen.
TAKE ACTION: Find a small local business or non-profit, do your research and then contact them. Let them know you are a college student looking to do an internship, 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.
Download a free copy of my Internship Manual Toolkit
. The toolkit keeps you organized on your internship search. You will find an action sheet to keep track of the companies you are applying to a calendar so you know what you should be doing no matter the time of year.
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. Start with the sites listed belo that focus on internships.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the online search options. 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 Recruitment Programs
Internship recruitment 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 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. While there are the Paid Minority Internship Recruitment Programs You’re Missing Out On, there are others program like the Washington Center Internship program as well.
Get started on getting your dream internship and becoming a superstar intern, right now!
Updated July 2018.
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Sharise Kent is an internship expert and freelance writer. She spent 5 years managing a national internship program where she placed over 400 interns with some of the biggest media companies in the world.