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?


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.

Discover Paid Diversity Internship  Programs

Discover Paid Diversity Internship Programs

Update 2/2021

Paid diversity internship programs are out there ready to help you reach your internship and career goals. When searching for internships, many students limit themselves to looking through a few postings online or visiting company websites. For minority or traditionally underrepresented college students, diveristy programs exist to open doors. .

As the former senior manager for the T. Howard Foundation, I am a firm believer in the opportunities diversity internship programs provide. For years, these nonprofit organizations and industry sponsored programs have promoted diversity through internships, professional development and employment opportunities. Unfortunately, every year thousands of eligible students don’t apply for internships through these various organizations because often they don’t know about them.

Why Minority Internship Recruitment Programs Exist

INROADS is on of the oldest minority recruitment organizations around. Frank C Carr, the INROADS founder once said,

It’s no secret that for years, people of color — Blacks, Hispanic/Latinos, and Native American Indians — were noticeably absent from the ranks of corporate North America. By June of 1970, it was time to make a change.”

As a result, there are now numerous nonprofit minority internship recruitment programs doing similar work across a range of industries. Diversity in the workforce continues to be an issue for Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, on Wall Street, in media, technology and other industries. Internship organizations are working everyday to change that.

These programs have worked for years to forge relationships with some of the most well known companies in the world. As a result, companies want the students coming from these programs because they know they are well prepared to be exceptional interns. So, you can always apply directly to companies on your own (and should), but don’t stop there. Pursue every route possible to land your dream internship.

In the wake of so much that transpired in 2020, companie now more than ever seem to understand the need for diversity. The need and the reality have not been fully realized, by any stretch of the imagination. Even in a year where there seems to be increased awareness, the message isn’t getting through to the top.

Comments from the Chief Executive at Wells Fargo drive home this point. He told staff on a Zoom call, “the bank had trouble reaching diversity goals because there was not enough qualified minority talent“. Ignorant statement like that reinforce why diversity internship organizations and programs must continue to exist, create opportunity and fight to shed light on the talent that is out there in underrepresented communities.

Why Apply to a Minority Internship Program

While the application processes can be lengthy and highly competitive, apply to all of the programs you are eligible for. In addition, these organizations provide professional development support and learning experiences that exten beyond just the internship. Other benefits can include:

  • Access to multiple companies with a single application
  • Support during and after your internship
  • An extensive alumni network
  • Networking opportunities
  • Job opportunities
  • Professional development events
  • Paid travel opportunities
  • Scholarships

No matter your major, there is a program for you. Do your research and connect to an organization. It could be life changing.

My Favorite Minority Internship Programs

  1. T. Howard Foundation
  3. Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO)
  4. Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) – National Internship Program
  5. Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT)

These programs cover everything from media interships, sports, entertainment, Forunte 500 companies, financial firms, law firms, non-profit, consumer goods and more. The deadlines, requirements and program componant for each is different. They all, however, are programs that will provide you with a stepping stone to a career.

Check out the Diversity Internship Directory for a complete listing of internships programs and companies!

Be Ready for the Competition

Competition for these spots is fierce. Be sure that your application materials; including a resume, college transcripts, interview, writing sample and recommendations, are the best representation of you. Get started and finish before the deadlines and you might find yourself with your dream, paid, internship this summer. For help with your resume, check out this free resume template.

If you know of a minority internship program, drop a comment below so that others can apply too. Check out the Diversity Internship Directory and discover a comprehensive listing of companies and organizations across the country that are available today!

Five Reasons to Start an Internship Program Now

Five Reasons to Start an Internship Program Now

Many businesses, large, small or solo operations, toy with the idea of starting an internship program. Make no mistake, starting and running a successful internship program is a big committment, but one that pays you back in many ways (not all financial). If you have been mulling it over and can’t decide, here are five reasons to start an internship program now.

1. Create a pipeline of future employees

When you are ready to add full or part-time staff, what better source of candidates than the people you already know? More frequently companies are turning to their previous or current intern pools first to fill open positions. In fact, according to the 2016 NACE Survey, employers offering interns jobs is at a 13-year high,  “the average offer rate is 72.7 percent.” 

As senior manager of a national internship program for nearly five years, I saw this trend increase year after year. The number of my graduating seniors receiving job offers before graduation continued to climb. There are not always openings at the end of the internship period, but many companies would offer previous interns jobs 1-2 years later when a job did become available. 

2. Increase new employee retention

An internship is like a really long job interview. For 8-10 weeks or longer you have the opportunity to learn and observe if someone will be a fit for your team. For an intern, working at a company for a few weeks exposes them to the culture, management and work flow so they can determine if it is a fit for them as well.

One of the coolest calls I recieved as program manager was from a college recruiter at one of my host companies. Imagine my surpise when she told me one of my interns was being offered a job –  8 months before his graduation. He had impressed them so much over the summer that they knew they wanted to bring him on as soon as possible. 

“His plans materialized during the fall of his senior year when he received a call from DIRECTV offering him a position as a Production Operator. He gladly accepted his first job before he even got halfway through his senior year….. Eric didn’t have to go through additional multiple interviews to get the job. The 12-week internship he completed was enough for DIRECTV to know they wanted him on their team.” 

The Internship Manual: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting the Internship of Your Dreams, Sharise Kent

3. Affordable help to grow your business

Internships can be paid or unpaid. There are however, many rules and regulations regarding the criteria for hiring paid vs unpaid interns. Even with a paid internship program, the compensation for interns is generally less than the cost of hiring a full or part-time employee. Affordable help should not be your main motivation.

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. So, before you ask a young person to forgo a paying job for a free internship, be aware that while they would love the experience, they simply can’t afford to work for free.

Even when working at a small non-profit, we paid our interns. The help they provided in assisting us in meeting our mission was useful and very appreciated. I worked to integrate them into our team and in addition to a paycheck, provided learning opportunities they would not get in class. In turn, we received the assistance we needed during certain times a year, without the cost of onboarding new employees.

4. Motivated team members breath new life


Interns are largely super motivated new members of your team. For an intern, the opportunity to take what they have been learning in a classroom and see how it applies to real life is what they have been waiting for. Also, they are trying to put their best foot forward in hopes of getting hired. Motivated new team members can bring a shot of energy and enthusiasm that can reinvigorate others around them.

Working in higher education and career placement for nearly 20 years keeps me young. While traditional interns have much to learn, their is something to be said for their youth and energy.

5. Fresh perspective

When your brainstorming sessions are filled only with people who have been with the company for years, a fresh new perspective from an outsider might provide the spark for some new ideas. Current college students and recent graduates are aware of new trends, new music and may possess social media skills you need to reach a different generation. Hiring interns can bring fresh ideas and new approaches to old problems. 

“This is not your coffee getting, paper copying, learn nothing type of deal. It was actually an intern who first proposed the idea of using text as the main platform and interns contributed greatly to the current website design.” – Kelly Peeler, NextGen Vest

Creating an internship program is about leading, teaching end empowering young people with knowledge, skills and training for future success. If you are not ready to lead and teach, you might not be ready to put together a winning internship program. 

6. Giving back and being a mentor (bonus reason)

The best internship programs understand that the bigger picture is about helping develop future talent whether or not they will be working for you. Being a mentor, serving young people who are eager for success and giving students a look at the reality of what it is to work in their professions should be high on your list of reasons to start an internship program.

Great internship programs are about creating an experience that will benefit the intern and the business.

If you are ready to take the steps and get started with your own internship program, download my free guide, 10 steps to launching an internship program. Don’t keep waiting, make a move in the right direction and start planning your program now.

Looking for a Last-Minute Internship?

Looking for a Last-Minute Internship?

While finding a summer internship in late April or early May isn’t the ideal way to go about it, you can still get out there and make it happen. In a recent article, Daniel Bortz interviewed me along with a few other experts to give you tips to make the last-minute internship search process a success.

How to Snag a Great Last-Minute Internship on

Don’t have an internship lined up for the summer? Take a deep breath. It’s not too late—so long as you’re willing to put in the work.

It’s true: You’re a bit behind the game, as deadlines for applications at many companies with formal internship programs have already passed.

Now for the good news: There are still internship opportunities up for grabs.

“Many small and medium-sized companies don’t realize they need interns until April or May rolls around,” says Lauren Berger, CEO of, “so they post their internship openings relatively late.”

Since you’re in a time crunch, you’ll need to ace the application process. You’re probably thinking, “Yeah, right. Easier said than done.” Well, not necessarily—if you follow these steps.

Focus on the right internships

The last thing you want to do is panic and spend your time applying to every single internship you can find. “You need to take a targeted approach,” says Sharise Kent, author of The Internship Manual: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting the Internship of Your Dreams. “If you’re a freshman who is applying to internships typically reserved for juniors, you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage,” says Kent. Focus on programs that fit your skills and level of experience.

Moreover, make the best use of your time. Before you spend hours applying to two- to three-month-old internship postings, pick up the phone and ask the company whether the position is still available, suggests Stephanie Waite, senior associate director of Yale’s Office of Career Strategy.

Customize your application

Recruiters and hiring managers can tell within 10 seconds if you’ve sent a generic application, says Berger. To stand out, you’ll need to tailor your resume and cover letter to each internship—and by focusing on five internship applications instead of 50, you’ll have time to do this.

Incorporate language from the job posting and the company’s mission statement into your resume, says Berger. Using the right keywords will help your resume pass through an application tracking system.

Use this same strategy to help you write a killer cover letter. “It’s all about dropping the company’s name throughout the letter,” says Berger. “That way, when the hiring manager reads it, they feel like the letter was written just for them.”

Keep the cover letter brief; Kent recommends writing three to four paragraphs. “It doesn’t have to be a full page,” she says.

Carve your own internship opportunity

Some companies simply don’t have established internship programs. Many startups, for example, can’t afford to hire an internship coordinator. Meanwhile, “a lot of companies haven’t hired interns before, but they’d be open to it,” says Waite.

If this is the case at one of your prospective companies, take initiative by creating your own internship at the organization. Find recruiters either through the job posting or on social media, and reach out to them directly. Be mindful of your approach, though. Ask about the company’s needs and whether they’ve ever considered hiring an intern, rather than immediately requesting an internship.

Even better: Identify problem areas at the organization and show how you can provide value, says Kent. For example, if the company isn’t active on social media, offer to help develop their strategy.

Be willing to commit

If you’re short on time (e.g., the application is due tomorrow), you may have to pull an all-nighter to get the work done or—gasp!—spend the weekend in the library.

But for the right internship opportunity, it’s worth putting your social life on standby, says Eric Woodard, director of the office of fellowships and internships at the Smithsonian and author of The Ultimate Guide to Internships: 100 Steps to Get a Great Internship and Thrive in It.

Remember to proofread

This might sound obvious, but when you’re under time constraints, you’re more likely to make typos, Waite says. Hence, you need a second pair of eyes—ideally from someone who is an expert in the field.

Have a mentor or a professor proof your resume, since the person knows the industry lingo, advises Waite.

To help you stay organized in your last minute frenzy, download my free Internship Manual Toolkit. Your search can end successfully if you get moving on your project with laser like focus.



I Didn’t Know I’d Need Experience to Get an Internship

I Didn’t Know I’d Need Experience to Get an Internship

If you are looking for your first internship and you don’t have any experience, you might be banging your head on the desk in frustration. You knew you needed an internship to get experience to get a job, but no one told you that you would need experience to get an internship! Makes your head hurt right, the idea that you have to work your way up to being an intern.

I’m going to explain five ways to get experience to land your first or next internship. You don’t have to do all five, pick what works best for you. Once you start building on experience, ramp up your internship search with some of these ideas on where to look.

1. Start on campus

Get involved. If you are already a part of a student organization, it is time to step up that involvement so that you can build some skills. Find a group that you are really interested in, or start one if it doesn’t exist. By serving on the executive board of a student group, fraternity, sorority or professional group (ex: Public Relations Student Society of America), you have a chance to learn a variety of skills from marketing, to social media, accounting to graphic design.

If you started a group on campus with three people and by the end of the semester membership grew to 75, you’d have a great example of a real marketing strategy that worked. You don’t have to be the president, treasurer etc. to get experience, you can join committees and be an active and involved member and still contribute to projects that will look great on your resume. It looks better on your resume if you are intimately involved in a few organizations, rather than being a part of 10 groups that you don’t contribute to.

2. Volunteer

There are always non-profit organizations that need volunteers. Even just 10 hours per week will benefit you personally and professionally from contributing to a cause. Non-profits Volunteer Groupneed assistance with accounting, recruiting volunteers, tutoring young people, database management, website development, doing research on policies that impact those they serve and so many other things.

Find a non-profit that motivates you so that volunteering isn’t just about getting experience.  Start with your student activities office or office of community service if your school has one, and you could be volunteering in a few days.


3. Look for internships that don’t require experience

In a perfect world you want the highest paid internship at the coolest company you can find. Reality is, if you are just starting out and looking to get some skills, it could mean low pay or even no pay and that is okay. Your internship is about preparing you for entry into the full-time paid professional work force. Your degree is good, but ultimately having experience could be the reason you get hired and someone else doesn’t.

Not everyone can intern at Google so I advise students with no experience to check out smaller companies, non-profits or even on campus internships first. They tend to be less competitive and can provide robust learning experiences. Don’t overlook these lesser known internships because they could be just what you need and what you didn’t even know you wanted.

4. Get a part-time job

Between junior year in high school and my senior year of college I had six different part-time jobs and eight internships. I am convinced that having work experience helped me land a few of my earlier internships. Having a job demonstrated responsibility, the fact that someone paid me for services, customer service skills, teamwork and flexibility.

If you have a part-time job or get one soon, don’t be the average employee. Look for opportunities to improve on the job you do and help the company at the same time. For example, if you work at local store (my first job was at a family owned hardware store) that doesn’t have a Facebook or Twitter account, take the initiative (with permission) to create a social media strategy that helps increase business. Create experiences, don’t just wait for them.

5. Create Opportunity

If you love writing, start your own blog and write. If you love building websites, start building them and learning different platforms. If you love landscaping, start cutting grass. You get my point right? Become an entrepreneur and create opportunities to put your skills to the test for yourself and clients. You may work for free a few times to build up clients but then you will gain traction and start to charge and expand you client base.The skills you will learn in managing your own business cover everything from marketing, to business development, social media promotion and so many others.

Prepare Your Resume

The last thing you will need to do is learn how to translate all of your newly acquired skills properly on your resume. You can stop by your university career services office to get some help on your resume. They can work their magic so your resume can adequately show how you built a student organization’s membership from 3 to 70 in 15 weeks or how your superb organizational skills assisted you in managing the logistics of the men’s football team making sure all equipment arrived to away games. Get help, and then learn how to write and edit your resume so that you will know how to add your new internships each semester.

For more information about how to find the internship of your dreams, check out The Internship Manual: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting the Internship of Your Dreams.