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?

via GIPHY

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!


 

Finding Summer 2021 Internships Post COVID-19

Finding Summer 2021 Internships Post COVID-19

Finding summer 2021 internships, even if COVID-19 is still around is something you should start today! Trying to predict, chart or plan anything more than a week in advance seems pointless in 2020, but trust me.

As we see positivity rates go up and down and lock downs are happening on a regular basis, it sucks. On the other side, there are vaccines on the horizon that could change the game this summer. Don’ get caught unprepared if things do turn around!

So, although no one wants to spend summer 2021 on lock down, companies are preparing for remote and/or onsite internships. Since they are looking to hire, you should be looking for an opportunity – now.

The Good News

The good news: companies just went through this last summer. Look, summer 2020 was a dumpster fire and everyone was just trying to survive. Companies scrambled to adapt and convert onsite internships into virtual and remote experiences. Six months later, they’ve been able to step back, evaluate and hopefully improve on their remote internships.

The other good news is that remote internships have opened up more opportunities for you! Gone will be the barriers of housing and travel. Many major brands and companies are located in big cities. Previously, that meant spending your internship pay check on housing and food. Other times, it meant not even applying to an internship because you couldn’t afford it. Right now, major brands and companies like VIACOMCBS  and NBCUniversal are looking for fill valuable paid remote and virtual internships! 

The internship world has opened up in ways like never before, at least for the short-term. For now, let’s take advantage of this season of COVID that has evened the playing field. So, if you don’t have deep pockets or responsibilities keeping you close to home, it’s time to shoot your shot.

person using macbook pro on table
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Summer 2021 Internship Search Process

The summer 2021 internship search process itself hasn’t changed much. Every year, students search for internships and do the whole process over the phone and online. So, the summer 2021 internships search process definitely won’t be changing much this year.

Sites like indeed.com, internships.com, LinkedIn, idealist.org, Handshake and internfromhome.com are still the first stop for many students.  Daily or weekly, search these sites using keywords like virtual, online, remote, or work from home. You will get many more results than in years past. Also, check to see if your college uses Handshake. Using Handshake will make applying to internships quick, and gives you access to virtual recruitment events.

My Diversity Internship Directory is a free comprehensive listing of internship opportunities specifically for Black, Latino and other traditionally underrepresented college students. 

Tools for Your Internship Search

Before you dive head first into things, get the tools for your search ready. Schedule an appointment with your university career services office (probably virtual). Learn about any virtual career fairs, recruitment events, alumni hosted interview days and other resources they provide. Put your tuition dollars to work! Also, career services should be your first stop for getting your resume and cover letter together.

Once you are resume ready, set up your LinkedIn profile and get to work. Don’t forget to create a targeted list of companies and when possible, apply directly to them rather than through job boards. Target companies are teh top companies you plan to research and apply to. Follow those same companies on Twitter, Instagram and other social media outlets. A lot of companies use social media to post about internships, application deadlines and sometimes the offer behind the the scenes internship info.

Network, Network, Network

networking

Networking can really help your internship search. Networking could be the key for you finding an internship or job in the future. It is less intimidating when you understand what networking it is all about. Networking is not about attending an event and collecting all the business cards that you can. Networking is about creating relationships and developing real connections. Start with your existing network that is probably bigger than you think. Your network could include:

  • friends
  • high school teachers
  • professors
  • your parents friends
  • your friends parents
  • church members
  • fraternity or sorority members
  • professional organization members
  • coaches
  • mentors

Let them know how things are going, what you are studying, how have you spent your time in 2020, are you in class or remote learning, your future aspirations and the type of internship you are looking for. Even if they don’t have an internship, they will keep you in mind for an opportunity that they may hear about. It’s like having an army of job seekers on the lookout for you. You can also network via LinkedIn.

Keep an eye out and keep your ears open. 

The Bad News

The bad news is that there just might be fewer summer 2021 internships around. Small businesses are the life blood of the economy. There is an estimate that as many as 60% of small businesses will close their doors this year and not reopen. Certain industries have been decimated like hospitality and travel. As a result, some smaller, great, local internships will no longer be available. For some companies whose doors have remained open, paying additional staff for summer 2021 internships is not on the table.

The result, there will likely be fewer internships available and the competition for those few openings will be tougher. To stand out, you will need to have your stuff together. The other likely situation, after years of making strides on the need for internships to be paid, we might see a resurgence of unpaid internships

Technically Speaking

As you navigate through this process, there are some things that have obviously changed. Remote internships remove the housing and travel barrier, but it also can create barriers for students who fail to demonstrate certain skills. You need at least basic technical skills to work from home.

Remote internships mostly require reliable internet access, assigned times to be online, and can be less interactive and more project based placements. Working from home will still require a quiet place, much like your need for space to study.

New Indsutries, New Opportunities

Think about the new opportunities and the industries that are thriving.  Opportunities in social media, marketing, coding, web design, front end and back end development, information technology, research and the list goes on. We’ve seen companies like Zoom explode as an online meeting platform, online gaming is at a high, online teaching platforms, cloud computing, e-commerce, home entertainment, manufacturing and biotechnology. 

Think outside the box and don’t be afraid to investigate and discover industries and positions you have’t thought of before. If you can’t fit in a technical class next semester, there are plenty of free online classes to learn new skills from places like Coursera. 

A Different Kind of Process

While the initial search and interview process itself may have not changed much, the interview questions and concerns have. You should ask questions about the internship structure, work hours, how often you will participate in meetings and how they will make interns feel included on the team. Will you be working with other interns? How often will you meet with your manager?

Online internships offer the convenience of staying home, but present the challenge of connecting with others. The better internship programs will work hard to ensure that interns can feel as part of the team as possible. 

With the fluid nature of life in the next 6-12 months, it will be important to know if or how things could change. If life is closer to normal this summer, could the internship go from remote to onsite? If you are asked to be onsite, what are the rules for social distancing? Make sure you ask when decisions on the in-person vs remote internships will be made. These are not questions anyone would have asked a year ago, but they are part of our reality for the moment. 

If you get an internship, make sure you stay in contact with human resources and your immediate manager for any news. 

Finding summer 2021 internships doesn’t have to be daunting or difficult. If you start searching now, get your resume in order, practice interviewing and do your research, you will have better results. Stay focused and take action!

Download my Internship Tracker with a free resume template to stay organized and maximize every moment of this process!

I Got an Internship, Now I Need Summer Housing

I Got an Internship, Now I Need Summer Housing

Congrats is in order because you worked hard and got an internship! Now, you need to hustle to find summer housing. Interning in a new city can be an exciting opportunity to learn a new place, gain independence and test out a potential future new home.

The clock is ticking to make this happen and you need to step up your housing search – fast. If you are still waiting to hear back from an internship interview, do some research so that you are ready to jump into action if an offer comes in. It doesn’t matter if you are going to Seattle, Washington or Washington, DC, I’ve outlined a few questions you need to answer for yourself ASAP.

There are four basic housing questions you should be researching now:

1) Where am I going to live?

Start with the local colleges and universities in the area to see if they allow summer housing for non-university students. Colleges including Columbia, FIT and NYU are a few places to start in NYC. Also in NYC you have the option of going through Educational Housing Services (EHS).

EHS offers student and intern-­only residences in six New York City neighborhoods.

Los Angeles bound interns can start with UCLA summer housing as an option. You may need to provide proof of your internship in order to secure a place on the UCLA campus. Another popular option is the Park La Brea Apartments which offers short-term leases for the summer.

Washington, DC is a another student friendly destination with intern housing options available at George Washington University, George Mason, American University and many others. If campus housing isn’t your style, you can try and sublet an apartment through Craigslist or AirBnB (be careful). If you can afford it, corporate housing through Oakwood Temporary Housing is available in many major cities as well. 

It is also time to put your network to work. Start asking around to family, friends, fraternity brothers, sorority sisters, religious organizations, professional associations and other resources to see if someone has an extra bedroom or couch for you to crash on.

2) How much is it going to cost me?

Probably more than you thought if you are going from a small city to a big city situation. You could find yourself handing over $2,000 or more of your hard earned summer cash for housing in New York. A room at New York University is going to set you back between $222 and $481 per week depending on your room choice. The meal plan will cost you an additional $149 per week for the most affordable option.

If you are headed to Washington, DC and considering housing at George Washington University, expect to pay between $280 to $434 per week for quads to single rooms. The difference between an eight-week internship and a 12-week internship could be as much as $1,000 more out of pocket. You need to also understand if there are any additional application fees and/or deposits and if payments are due in full or through payment plans.

The costs for some places will be charged all up front, while others may allow for monthly or weekly payments. If you don’t have the full amount due, find the housing option that lets you make payments.

As a student, as much as I wanted to intern in a bigger city, my pockets just weren’t that deep. But, if you aren’t a senior you have the chance to start planning now. Save your money this year so that next summer you can intern in your dream location.

3) How am I going to eat?

If you are living in a major city on a $15 per hour intern salary, you can’t afford to eat out for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Really you can barely afford to eat! Either you will need a meal plan or a kitchen to cook. For this reason, I do think that living on campus and selecting a meal plan could turn out to be a great option for many students.

Living in an apartment will give you the ability to cook, which is probably the cheapest option. If you can’t cook, you need to learn a few quick, inexpensive meals before you go. Make sure you know where the grocery stores are. Renting a place on AirBNB only to find out you need a car to get to the nearest restaurants and grocery stores would make summer really hard if you don’t have a car.

4) How will I get to work?

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Some cities have awesome public transportation systems including trains and buses. Get to know the routes, the costs and how long your commute will be. Understand that all transportation systems are not created equal. The New York City subway is vastly different than DC metro train system. Understand where you will be living and if you will need a car to even get to the train station.

West coast interns will be best served by having a car. If you don’t have one, just make sure you live on a bus line and not too far from your internship. Taking public transportation or paying for gas on a long commute can start to impact your pockets. Make a budget that includes transportation expenses so that you are not hit with surprises to your budget later.

Obviously you will likely have the option of Uber, Lyft or another rideshare service. Most cities have one or the other, but not all cities do so make sure you know that beforehand. There are also bikeshare programs and services like Zipcar that might be an option for you as well. Whatever your method that you plan to use, know your numbers. Have a transportation budget that won’t let you broke.

Embrace the Experience

These are just a few things to bring to your attention as you go through this search process. Interning in a new city can be an exciting adventure but it does take some planning.

Let the adventure take you beyond your internship. Get to know the city, experience the culture, the foods and the people. In addition to getting to know your fellow interns and co-workers, you will meet people in your summer housing unit. You can also stretch yourself and look for meeting or professional networking events sponsored by organizations you are a part of.

In my book The Internship Manual, I dedicate an entire chapter to this topic, “Get Out of the Comfort Zone: Interning Away From Home”. Pick up a copy now so you can learn all you need about finding housing and about being a rock star intern.

The College Admissions Scandal: Inequality in Higher Ed Goes Beyond Admissions

The College Admissions Scandal: Inequality in Higher Ed Goes Beyond Admissions

While I was surprised to see the faces of a few famous people splashed across the news, I can’t say I was shocked by the recent college admissions scandal. It’s sad, frustrating and infuriating, but not surprising.

Our current culture often sends the message that only a few select schools lead to success. This idea that your worth as a person is tied to the college that you attend is running rampant. The rich and the not so rich, often go to extremes to gain any possible advantage in college admissions.

This warped concept that your success is all about graduating from “NameBrand U” drives people to do stupid things – like pay $500,000 to get a kid into college.

The Not So Rich

The idea of money creating an advantage in the college admissions quest is not reserved for the rich only. What many people may fail to realize is that many middle and upper class families also experience multiple advantages over low income students trying to go to college.

The disparities in access to education start with the zip code a child is born into. “Income disparities in communities increased by 20 percent from 1990 to 2010, largely because of the desire people have to live within the boundaries of top-performing schools.” Other parents skip the public school system all together and can afford to pay for private schools starting from Pre-K.

Parents routinely fork over sizeable chunks of money for test prep courses, private tutors, expensive travel club sports, music lessons and take flights to visit colleges on opposite sides of the country.

On the flip, many low-income students attend schools that don’t offer the same number of AP courses, take the SAT/ACT test once often without the proper prep, can’t pad their resumes with loads of extracurricular activities because they are working a job to help family, and many times don’t even set foot on their college campus until the first day of classes.

I’ve worked in college admissions for seven different colleges in multiple states. Believe me when I say these advantages make a difference. The playing fields are not even.

The disparity, inequity and bias in the college admissions process is a decades old problem. This scandal is just another example of the odds stacked against low income and minority students.

The Inequality of Internships

Beyond the college admissions process which has layers of issues, there is an inequality that also exists in the world of college internships, specifically, unpaid internships. There are plenty of internships to go around. Quality paid internships though, not as many. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 43 percent of internships at for-profit companies do not pay.

It seems like companies want to hold onto this old idea that interns have to pay their dues and work for free, as though it is a rite of passage for students to do the same today. Well, fact is college prices have doubled and in many instances quadrupled in the last 20 years. The average private college tuition is just below $35,000 and the average public college tuition is right around $10,000. Those prices don’t include room and board. The idea that students should just be grateful for the experience and opportunity is elitist.

According to a recent National Association of  Colleges and Employers Survey, 75 percent of employers report that the primary focus of their internship program was to recruit college graduates for full-time, entry-level positions. 

Working without pay is a barrier that keeps qualified students from excellent internship opportunities. Without valuable internship experience, low income grads are at an immediate disadvantage in the job search process. If companiescontinue these same practices, they will never diversify their work force as they claim they want to do.

Don’t Get Defeated in the Internship Search Process

As your internship search intensifies, you start to look for internships and almost everything you see is unpaid or pays so little that its offensive. Been there. Let’s just set aside for a moment that many unpaid internships are actually against the law, and focus on this issue.

Students who can’t afford to participate in unpaid internships are basically penalized for not being able to be full-time volunteers for two months.

You have to make money to pay tuition, for transportation, perhaps to even help family, and to pay bills. Students with financial support can freely find opportunities just based on what they are interested in. Low income students have to factor in so many more concerns than just academic.

In college, I never had a full-time unpaid internship because I just couldn’t afford it. I did eight internships, a mixture of paid and unpaid. I remember when the reality of unpaid internships smacked me in the face. When I started college my goal was to work in sports in public relations, marketing or community relations.

Living in Rochester, NY the closest major sports teams were in Buffalo. The Bills and the Sabers. I didn’t and don’t know much about hockey so I started looking in January for a summer internship with the Bills. As I read the details, I saw that it was an unpaid internship. So that meant I’d have to take a full-time unpaid paid job with a 120 mile daily roundtrip commute. I needed money to pay for school. I was knocked down, but not out.

via GIPHY

I instead refocused my attention locally on the AAA baseball team and the professional soccer team. I got an internship with the Rochester Red Wings. One of the staff told me that they thought I was first Black female intern they’d ever had. I was actually able to start in the spring as an unpaid intern for college credit.

I was asked to stay on for the summer as a full-time unpaid intern. Again, I needed money to pay for school but I wanted to learn in a professional sports setting. So what did I do? I took the unpaid internship but I negotiated my hours so I could work a paying job (actually I think I had two jobs that summer). I was the only intern that had that set up. I’m not sure if any of the other interns needed it, but I did, I asked and it worked.

Later after the summer started, I remember another intern joining the group a little late. He’d interned with the club before and returned to intern again. He’d also spent a summer interning for the New York Yankees in New York City – unpaid. How’d he do that? With his parents support.

I may have missed out on some full-time unpaid internship opportunities, but that didn’t stop me from the eight different experiences that I was able to have. I share some ways to overcome the pay vs no pay obstacle in this post, When You’re Too Broke to Intern: Paid vs Unpaid Internships.

Not being able to take an internship because it is unpaid is inequality in the internship process, but you can overcome it.

Big City Bias

Many of the prime internships with larger companies or organizations are located in big cities. To be a congressional intern, you have to be able to spend an unpaid summer living in Washington DC. Unless you happen to live there or have some money saved or financial support, that is a challenging task to accomplish.

The same is true of internship opportunities in places like New York, LA, Atlanta, Chicago, Seattle, and San Francisco.

There are other housing and transportation related barriers as well. How will you even afford to get there? Can you afford a plane ticket if you don’t have a car you can drive that far? If you can drive, who is going with you? In NYC you can take the subway everywhere, but if you are out in Cali you need a car or big Uber budget.

Beyond the budget, the emotional stress and strain of working for little to no pay can keep you from performing your best.

This doesn’t mean you give up, that means you have to create a plan to navigate these waters. In my book, The Internships Manual: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting the Internship of Your Dreams I talk in detail about finding creative ways to land internships in a new city. I also talk about how I balanced my paid and unpaid internships.

Internships Organizations the Great Equalizer

While working at the T-Howard Foundation I oversaw the placement of over 400 students in paid internships with companies like ESPN, HBO, the NBA, Verizon, CBS, FOX, Facebook and many others.

My team and I recruited the best and the brightest minority students from institutions across the country. We received thousands of applications annually from students attending ivy league universities, historically black colleges and universities (HBCU), large public schools to small liberals arts colleges.

T. Howard Foundation and similar diversity internship programs like INROADS and HACU work to try and level the playing field for minorities. These non-profit programs only offer PAID internships. In addition they provide networking opportunities, internship housing assistance, and a support system after graduation when looking for a job. Gaining access to these programs requires a competitive application process, but the rewards are worth it.

Learning How to Network

Each internship creates a new opportunity to consistently build the network of people you know. People in positions to offer you a job or internship. People who will serve as future references and become mentors as you grow professionally.

Start learning now how to create opportunities for yourself. You should:

  • Join student chapters of professional organizations
  • Attend alumni networking events
  • Use career services and all of their resources starting freshman year
  • Attend job fairs at your school

I recommend that students aim to do at least four internships before graduation. If you need help getting started get my free Internship Manual toolkit for a starting off point.

Networking can be an intimidating situation, but it is a necessary art to learn early in your college career. By the time you graduate you will have the confidence to keep growing your network. And, soon you will be the professional in a position to open the door for someone like you. You will be in the position to hire paid interns in your department or for your business. Obstacles exist and until they don’t we learn to work around them. Then, we help others and together create change.