Use Your Winter Break to Find a Summer Internship

Use Your Winter Break to Find a Summer Internship

Since there aren’t many other options, you should use your winter break to find summer internships. Your winter break used to consist of sleeping in, mom’s cooking, seeing friends, your old room, and no homework. Well, depending on where you are, you may have never left home for the fall semester this year. Seeing friends might be only via Facetime. The unknown future due to COVID-19 provides all the more reason to spend your winter break finding summer internships.

The least fun part of being home is dealing with annoying questions from family.

What are you studying again?

What are you going to do with a degree in that?”

Found a job yet?”

“Are you going to graduate school?

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You may or may not have any answers. I don’t care if you have answers for them, I want you to have answers for YOU. If you are a senior, things are getting really real as you buckle down on your job, grad school or post grad internship search. Even if you aren’t graduating in six months, using this winter time wisely can have a big impact on your upcoming summer internships.

Taking the time to do these things below can help you gain confidence on what can happen over the next few months. When little is predictable, you can have confidence that you are taking step to have a productive summer 2021.

Resting and Refocus

Sleep, eat, be a little lazy, exercise, talk a few walks, read a fun book, wrestle with your younger siblings and hug your family. Sometimes just being home can be enough to get you back to balance and your focus right. Resting is required for your physical and mental well-being.

However, don’t spend your entire break in bed or binge watching Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ etc. Get your baby Yoda fix on for sure, but make sure you put in some work too.

In these changing times, you might also start to think more critically about your coures and career choices. What industries have been hit hard and which industires are thriving? After a cold long winter, will summer 2021 internships be availble in your area of interest? While your rest, and declutter your mind, you can think about things more clearly.

Work on Your Resume

If you don’t have a resume, it’s time to make one. Update your resume every semester with new internships, clubs or skills you’ve gained. A resume is a one-page summary of your experience, education, skills, leadership and volunteer activities. Learn the elements of what makes a good resume and how to write a cover letter. These two tools are vital to your internship or job search.

For help, start with the career services office on campus. Even if you are not on campus, check the career services website for basic information, virtual meetings, resume templates and tips on where to begin (or you can download my free resume template). Most career services offices also offer resume reviews or critiques too. You can also check to see if they offer mock interviews. The more you prepare for an interview, the less nervous you will be.

Informational Interviews

I am a big fan of informational interviews. An informational interview is an interview you conduct with a professional in the career field you want to pursue. It is the perfect opportunity to learn about what it takes to succeed in an industry, challenges you could face, what the day-to-day life is like in that career and network.

Attempting to contact the CEO of a Fortune 500 company will probably not get you any results. This is where you start with your local network (parent’s jobs, neighbors, church members, fraternity or sorority members etc.) and then move onto using school resources to tap into the alumni network.

Through networking, you should be able to identify at least one opportunity to sit down or have a brief phone call with someone that can give you insight. Since you likely have no classes, you’ll have the time to find the right person and connect.

Create Your LinkedIn Profile

Use this time off to create your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is an online community for professionals of all levels to connect, network, share and learn. Many companies, large and small post jobs and internships through LinkedIn. They also use it to locate and connect with potential candidates.

Your LinkedIn profile should mirror your resume, however, it provides the opportunity to include additional information. You can write a professional summary, highlight skills, add recommendations, share a portfolio and publish content. The other great thing is that you can find and directly apply for jobs and internships through LinkedIn.

As a current student, you should not feel pressured to have a profile that fills in all the boxes to oversell who you are. Focus your energy on a solid summary and matching the sections of your resume to the online profile.

Get your resume ready, create your LinkedIn profile and start applying ASAP. Don’t miss an opportunity because you missed a deadline. Download my free Internship Manual Tracker with a free resume template to keep yourself on track.

Start Applying

The most useful way to spend this time off is to actually start applying for internships. Many companies are already accepting applications for summer 2021 – for virtual or in person internships. Companies like ViacomCBS, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Johnson & Johnson and so many others are already accepting applications for PAID summer internships (including post grad internships) across departments.

Depnding on your career goals, you can also start applying to graduate school programs. Use the break to study for any required standardized tests. If you want an MBA, you are likely going to take the GMAT, liberal arts programs mostly require the GRE, medical school candidates will need to take the MCAT and law school hopefuls will take the LSAT. Your break is the perfect time to take a study course or the test.

Learn the admissions requirements for the programs you want. Looking to become a physical therapist, know what the physical therapy degree admission requirements are well before hand. Think you want an MBA, learn the types of undergrad classes business schools look for. Goal to be a nurse, learn if an RN to BSN is the best option for you. Learning it now will allow you to carefully plan your approach.

Once you get back to school, your summer internship or graduate school search time might be more limited, so take advantage of your open winter schedule. Be smart, get a head of the game and this summer you will be glad that you did. We don’t know what things will look like for sure summer 2021, but give yourself the option. While others might sit back and wait for everything to fall into place, you can choose to take action – even in the midst of a pandemic.

Five Ways to Find an Internship Today!

Five Ways to Find an Internship Today!

Updated December 2020

You want to know how to find an internship. Here are five ways to find an internship today! It’s Always internship season – summer, fall, winter, spring, it doesn’t matter.  Given that things are unpredictable in the season of COVID-19, the good thing as that these tested tips work in or out of a pandemic.
 
These proven strategies helped me find eight internships when I was in college.  Later, as the Senior Manager of a national internship program, these tips helped over 500 students find internships across the country. There are obviously more than five ways to find an internship, but these serve as a starting point for you today.
 
Even in this time of social distancing, you can still pursue many of these methods for finding an internship. Zoom calls,  phone calls and emails are all valid ways of communicating. Colleges that have moved online are still offering virtual career services appointments to help students navigate this challenging time.

 

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 got 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. Go beyond the college community and ask your friends parents, mentors and other professionals you know too. This is also your first attempt at 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. Getting comfortable talking to others and sharing your goals will come in handy later as you start to build your networking skills.

Bonus Tip: It’s time to join LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a social network that focuses on professional networking and career development.

 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. There are many keys on how to find an internship in the book.

 2) Connect with career services 

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). If you can’t make it to campus, set up a virtual visit with a career advisor.
 
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. This fall, career fairs might look a little different as virtual events.
  • Make an Appointment: Schedule a time to sit down with a career counselor/advisor (or virtually) 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 don’t have to come from 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 under 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. The challenge currently, is that many small business are closing are can’t afford to pay interns.
 
TAKE ACTIONFind 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. 
 
Download a free copy of my Internship Manual Tracker. This tracker 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.

Follow the top companies you are interested in on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instragram, Twitter and any other social media they use. Create a LinkedIn profile today if you don’t’ have one already.

5. Apply to Divesrity 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. Subscribe to my Diversity Internship Directory to see a comprehensive listing of diverse internship opportunities. There are others program like the Washington Center Internship program as well.

Get started on finding your dream internship and becoming a superstar intern, right now!


 

Avoid the $1.7 Trillion Student Loan Crisis

Avoid the $1.7 Trillion Student Loan Crisis

Updated January 2021

The student loan debt crisis continues to grow at an astronomical rate.  In the last decade, student loan debt has ballooned by 102%. The nearly $1.7 trillion student loan debt crisis has surpassed auto loans and credit card debt and is second to only mortgage debt in the consumer loan category.

With planning and intentionality, you can avoid joining the $1.7 trillion student loan debt crisis.  On average, the Class of 2019 graduated college with $28,950 in student loan debt. Everyone says, “just take out student loans” but then no one wants to talk about how to pay back tens of thousands of dollars. Not everyone gets a high paying job after graduation, and not every student graduates. If you fail to finish, you still have to pay those student loans back.

Can you get a college education without taking on massive debt and adding to the student loan debt crisis? Making reponsbile choices, understanding the loan process and creating a plan can help you reduce your future student loan burden. 

Don’t Believe the Hype

Don’t believe the hype that says the only way to go to college is through debilitating student loan debt. That is a lie. It is possible to graduate in four-years, avoid or minimize student loan debt, complete multiple internships and have employers looking to recruit you after you graduate.

Families without college savings, or the ability to pay cash find themselves pressured to sign on the dotted line for student loans. They fall prey to the mass marketing that oversimplifies the impact of debt while only promoting the promise of a degree. A rule of thumb I often hear and agree with, your total student loan debt shouldn’t exceed your expected first-year earnings. If your projected income is $45,000 per year, your total student loan debt should not exceed that amount. 

Day after day you hear stories about millennials having buyer’s remorse over student loans. Graduates wishing they’d gone to a cheaper school, lived at home or saved money before going to college. They believed the hype that big loans were the only option and have since learned it wasn’t necessarily true.

So, the first thing you should do is separate yourself from the belief that big loans are the only option on the table. When you remove that option from the table, it will force you to evaluate your choices more carefully as well as be creative in paying for college.

 

 

 

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Pick a College You Can Actually Afford

Keep it simple. When shopping for a college, just like a picking car or house you need to have a realistic budget of what you can afford. Parents and students need to have the tough conversation before the search process begins. The conversations around the college budget should start in high school.

In 2021, the average private college tuition is around $35,087 with total costs around $53,000. In-state public school tuition averages $9,687. Knowing the numbers and understanding the costs of college are essential to evaluating offers. 

For some students, unfortunately there is no college savings, there is no 529 plan, there is nothing to help. For others, learning to live within and make choices within the limits of any savings is a must.  The scholarship search is intense and lengthy to score the type of money most students need. Many colleges also offer merit-based scholarships (scholarships based academic performance) to attract and help applicants.

The dream school, with the dream name, in the dream location might not be in the budget. You might be left with the option of taking on student loans, or searching for an alternative and affordable school that still checks most of your boxes. 

Every college financial aid or admissions website offers a tool called the net price calculator. It is a feature that allows you to input financial information and receive an estimate of what your financial aid package might look like, therefore giving you an estimated net price. 

The most affordable school is the one you can pay for without deep studen loan debt. 

 Expand Your Search 

Expand your search to include colleges you’ve probably never heard of. There are 4,000 colleges across the country. Start in your own backyard with public and private institutions within driving distance. Look beyond the big brand name.

As you continue through the search process you can narrow your focus from just cost to other factors.  Important considerations include academic major, school size, class size, location, unique programs, scholarships and overall fit to name a few.

When attending college fairs, virtual or in-person, take the time to explore schools you haven’t heard of. Just as importantly, don’t eliminate a school you grew up near just because “everyone goes there” or “it’s not far enough away”. You could be overlooking the right fit school that comes in at the right price. 

I graduated from two public colleges and I have also worked in college admissions at five private colleges. I’ve placed over 400 interns and newly hired grads with some of the biggest companies in the world. Success is based on you and your ability and your network, not just the name on your diploma.

student loan debt crisis

Take Dual Enrollment Classes in High School

There has been a rapid increase in dual enrollment programs. Dual enrollment programs allow high school students to take college courses before they graduate. Students may complete a few courses or even graduate high school with an Associate’s degree from the participating college. The result could be major savings in college tuition.

In addition to cost savings, you also enter college with more confidence about your ability to do the work. Many colleges will still consider you an entering freshman making you eligible for freshman merit scholarship money. If your school offers this option, jump on it!

Consider a Gap Year to Save Money

gap year

The number of students taking a gap year is also on the rise, the most famous example probably being Malia Obama delaying entry into Harvard for a year. Well, at the moment, COVID-19 has shut down travel plans, however, your gap year doesn’t have to include travel.

My version of a gap year on a budget is about doing a few internships and working full-time or part-time to save money. Internships can also help you develop a true understanding of what career you want to follow. Set a goal to save enough money to pay for at least your first year in cash. Experiment with a low-cost start up business idea and learn new skills like computer coding, sales, or graphic design. 

Taking time off can also prevent changing majors multiple times (most students change majors three times before graduation). A year of working can increase focus as you learn more about yourself, your interests and what excites you.  Student loans are bad enough, but don’t take on student loans to pursue a career you don’t want. 

In a gap year, you may also start working full-time for an employer who can help you pay for school. Employers like Wegmans, Fed Ex, Starbucks, Wal-Mart and others offer scholarships to employees. When you look for a full or part-time job, take this factor into account and it could mean thousands of scholarship dollars to help pay for school. 

Attending Community College is Perfectly Fine

SUNY Oswego

My personal path involved attending a community college and earning an Associate’s degree before transferring to the State University of New York at Oswego. Most people actually don’t even know I went to a community college. It’s where and how you finish that matters, not where you start.

Was I disappointed that I didn’t go away like many of my friend’s freshman year? Ah, yes, but I eventually got over it with time. My parents paying cash for those first two years at community college was something I couldn’t fully appreciate then, but I do now.

With careful planning and an understanding of the transfer process, you can still graduate in four-years. I completed my Bachelor’s degree on time, with a transfer scholarship with no academic credit issues. It’s a process that you have to stay on top of from day one.

I didn’t finish college debt free, but who knows how bad it would have been if I took on loans for my first two years. I ended up with three degrees and $25,000 in student loan debt, most of that coming in graduate school. Student loans don’t have to be the kiss of death, but understand how much you are taking on, and have a plan to pay it back.

Living at home and attending a public university is one of the most affordable paths to a degree. Living at home after you earn your degree and attacking your student loan debt is also potentially life changing situation for you.

When I went to SUNY Oswego, tuition was $3,400 and the total cost of attendance was about $10,000. SUNY tuition in 2021 is only $6,470 which is still one of the best buys in public college education. All New York (SUNY) college tuition is the same price. For a student who lives at home and is willing to commute (even for a 1 or 2 years) attending a public university is one of the most affordable paths to a degree.

Remember Why You Are Going to College

I am a first generation college student. My father worked in facilities for Eastman Kodak for 20+ years and my mom had an in-home daycare.  Yes, college was fun. I met my best friend and made life long connections. I was personally and academically challenged, tried new things and learned new things.

At the end of the day, I went to college to create a future that would allow me to have a career. In the midst of my college fun, I did eight internships which I detail in my book, The Internship Manual and worked a bunch of part-time jobs so that I could have enough experience for my resume.

How badly do you want to go to college and avoid the student loan debt trap? Get a job, sell stuff on Ebay, drive Uber and save money. Most people can find extra money in their budget when they stop and think critically about needs versus want. If college is a need, get rid of the unnecessary wants.

Doing these things won’t bring a $54,000 per year school within reach. It will, however, make a $6,500 public school while living at home a realistic opportunity. One you might be able to do in cash or with the federal loan program.

Don’t lose site of the goal. Graduate college and start your career. Attending college is not a promise, but a privilege. Make the wise financial and academic decisions today that will give you more options in your future.