I know that the calendar just switched to fall, but it’s also internship search season! I know, the idea of searching for a summer internship when we haven’t even seen the first snowflake seems premature. However, I assure you that the time is now to get moving on your summer internship search.
Generally speaking, only the most competitive internships have deadlines in September – December. If you are chasing after a gig at certain Fortune 500 companies, working on Wall Street, consulting for McKinsey or have spy dreams of working for the Central Intelligence Agency, you need to get moving now for those super competitive opportunities.
Actually, you might be too late for the CIA since you have to apply 12 months in advance (they do have other positions with later deadlines though). The FBI’s internship program is already closed until next summer too and the National Basketball Association internship program closes on October 3rd.
The world won’t end if you wait until January to start your internship search. Starting now does open up a whole world of additional opportunities.
Fall is for Recruitment
As a recruiter, the fall is when I used to rack up a ton of travel miles heading from college to college across the country. I attended college fairs, presented to student groups and occasionally met with department chairs.
When I was a student, I landed a few internships and a full-time job offer as a result of attending my college’s career fair. They can be valuable for the purposes of 1) getting to meet an actual person that works for the company 2) making a good impression that can lead to an interview and 3) learning about new companies and opportuinites that you haven’t thought about before.
On the other side, I was looking to meet students that would be a good fit for my program. I loved introducing the program to students who didn’t know about it. I was impressed by the young people who’d already done their research and came prepared with questions.
If your university will be hosting a Career or Graduate School fair, make it your business to be there. And, be dressed to impress. I have five steps for success at a career fair that serve as good starting point for you. I can tell you after nearly 20 years of recruitment, a smile and firm handshake can go a long way.
Diversity Internship Programs
Plenty of other types of internship opportunities will come along later this year and early spring. Many of the highest paying internship programs are already accepting applicants.
Wonderful opportunities come to those who choose to participate in diversity internship programs. Programs like the T. Howard Foundation, Sponsors for Educational Opportunity and INROADS are constantly working to introduce and advance minority representation in the worlds of business, media, sports, engineering, investment banking, finance, law and other spaces.
The applications for these PAID internship programs generally due early. The first deadline for the T. howard Foundation is October 1st and the final deadline December 1st. T. Howard Foundation places students in internships with companies like HBO, ESPN, CBS Corporation, Facebook, Viacom, Univision and so many others. Check out my list for detailed informtaion on over
In addition to helping you land an internship with a major company, these organizations provide a support network that can open doors for you for years to come, scholarships and job connections.
Many companies may not participate with diversity organizations, but they often have their own internships targeted at increasing diversity. Check out my ongoing list of companies looking to recruit diverse interns.
What You Need to Do Next
The first thing you need to do is get your resume in order. Start with your career services office on campus. Your resume is only one piece of the puzzle but very important. Getting your resume in order forces you to think about the experiences you’ve had, skills you possess as well as skills that you lack, but it should also make you think about the types of experiences you want to gain.
With your complete resume, it will be easy to move foward and create a LinkedIn profile. After you get your resume together, you need to get organized. My free Internship Manual Toolkit can keep you on task and focused on your next move. As a bonus, the Toolkit includes a free resume template.
Take the internship search process seriously and learn to be an expert. If you can become effective at a great internship search, you will be a pro at executing an effective job search.
The fall semster is underway, so let’s get it started! Doesn’t matter if it’s your first semester of college or the start of your senior year, it is time to put in the work to make your internship dreams come true.
Taking action right now gives you the chance to pick up a fall internship. In September there are still plenty of internship openings that are not filled. In the event your fall semester plate is already full, starting now gives you plenty of time to find a spring or summer 2019 gig.
It may seem too early, but believe me it is not. Great example of how quickly things can move, the Viacom spring 2019 internship deadline is September 30th, just about a month from today. The good news is that there are hundreds of thousands of smaller companies, mid-sized, and non-profit orgranzations that take internss all throughout the year. They key is just to get started.
An Internship is Not Optional
The first hurdle of getting started in the internship process is embracing that this is not optional, but an integral part of your college education. Employers expect you to have internship experience.
Your degree is only a piece of what makes you a candidate. Experience combined with your leadership skills, critical thinking ability, GPA, technical skills and analytical skills work together to present you as an entire package. Rarely is just having a degree, or even the college you went to enough.
On the flip side, internships give you the chance to expand your hard and soft skills while teaching you things like networking and navigating the real world of work. It was through my multiple internship experiences that I became a better writer, was exposed to a variety of work environments, and gained marketing and sales skills I didn’t get in my classes as a public relations major. You owe it to yourself to enhance your marketability by doing multiple internships.
Check With Your Department About Course Credit
I did eight internships in college. My internships were a mixture of paid, unpaid, big company, small non-profits, some for academic credit and some not for credit.
Every internship doesn’t have to be done for course credit, but if you can get credit, it is an absolute win-win. If you can get an internship, academic credit and get paid, that it is a win-win-win.
Some majors or departments won’t let you do an internship for credit until a certain point in your degree program. That’s fine, set your sights on a paid internship and unpaid as a last resort. Then do another when you get to that point in your degree program.
In a lot of majors, you can do an internship at anytime. Visit your academic department to learn about any internship requirements. From there they can guide you to a list of approved intern sites or to the career services office.
I never relied only on my academic advisor to know if I was on track to graduate, you shouldn’t either. Take ownership. Get a degree audit every semester so that you don’t find out in the final hour that you can’t graduate on time.
If you can do an internship for credit then you might be able to pick up an extra class and complete 18 credit hours without taking an extra class. That is a good way to catch up on credits. If you are on a standard 120 degree credit program that means four semesters of at least five classes (15 credits per semester). In the event you took only four classes (12 credit hours) during one semester, you are already behind. If you need more than 120 credits or go to a tri-mester school, do your math.
Do you know where career services is on your campus? Depending on the size of your institution, there could be multiple career services offices seperated by college, or their could be one central college office. Figure out where you need to be.
Starting usually mid September through early November colleges across the country hold on-campus career and graduate school fairs. Attending an on-campus career fair literally brings hundreds of employers to your campus who are there for you. They are there looking for interns and future employees. Missing the career fair could mean missed opportunity.
You want to visit career services to 1) find out when the career fair is and 2) get help with your resume and cover letter. Career services can also usually assist you with interview tips and techniques or even doing a mock interview.
Career services advisors tend to have human resources and recruiter contacts with many companies, so use their connections to get the inside track on the best internships and future job opportunities.
Start Your Internship Search
In addition to finding out about academic credit and making plans to attend the career fair you should start your own internship search. Download my free internship manual toolkit to keep organized and understand the best way to do your internship search.
Finding an internship is training for finding a job. The better you become at this process now, the better you will be prepared to look for a job when the time comes.
Your internship search shoud be a combnitation of muliplte resources. Online search engines, company websites, internship programs, career services and networking. When the time comes, your job search will consist of many of these same methods. Here are 5 Ways to Find an Internship that work.
Proper planning will position you to find the best internship opportunities and fit them into your schedule. Over the course of your college education participating in different internships lets you explore other areas that are not withing your major, try different sized companies, enhance the skills you have learned in class, make connections, meet mentors and build your confidence.