Five Ways to Find an Internship Today!

It’s internship season! If you don’t want to spend this summer stuck in retail jail, then you need to get started on your summer internshipworking here sucks! search. 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. In addition, 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 personally 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. Don’t just stop with the college campus community. Ask your friends parents, mentors and other professionals that you know as well. This is just one of the ways that you are learning to Network.
 The Internship Manual

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.

 If you need scripts, I include scripts for these and other scenarios in my book, The Internship Manual: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting the Internship of Your Dreams. I also dedicate an entire chapter to the subject of networking because it is that important to your future internship and career success.

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).
Most colleges will host fall and spring internship/career fairs. 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 and the professionals who staff it as a part of your internship search team.
  •  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

Not every meaningful and amazing experience has to come from a company 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 5-100 employees who gladly welcome interns into their operations. Size alone doesn’t dictate the quality and opportunity to have a meaningful and amazing 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 ACTIONFind 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.

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. 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.


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Freelance Writer | Internship Expert at The Internship Manual | Sharise Kent
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.

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