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!


 

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.

4 Things to Do Three Months Before College Graduation

4 Things to Do Three Months Before College Graduation

It’s February. Three months before the members of the graduating class triumphantly enter the ranks of the “real-world.” Across the U.S. college seniors are experiencing mixed emotions ranging from excitement to anxiety, from stress to fear. Job, new apartment, moving, leaving friends, going back home, all of it is enough to drive anyone crazy.

There are those few seniors who have already accepted job offers and can breeze through a little less stressed this spring. If you are not among them, then the simple question of, “so what are your plans after graduation” can seem like the  most difficult question that anyone has asked you in the last four years.

What if I don’t find a job? Did I do enough internships? Where am I going to live? Should I go to graduate school if I can’t find a job? These and other questions are running through your mind possibly keeping you up at night, while your roommate doesn’t seem to be worried at all because after all, there are still three months left until graduation.

So, what are you to do?

Relax.

Take a breath.

I can’t answer every question you have about finding a job in a single post. I can however, offer some guidance to get you on track to finding that first “real” job out of college and attempt to calm some of the voices of fear and doubt in your head.

1. Start looking for a job ASAP

Visit career services and get your resume and cover letter in order. At this point in your career, your resume should not exceed one-page. Even if you have done 8+ internships (like I did) you still need to make your work experience fit on one page. It’s okay to have two different resumes that highlight different skills and goals, it is not okay to have a two-page resume. Due to the mixture of internship and work experiences I had in college, when I graduated I had a sales focused resume and a public relations focused resume.

Career services is there to assist you in making your resume professional and polished. There will more than likely be a spring career/internship fair on your campus, which gives you the perfect opportunity to take your new resume for a test drive. Most career services offices offer mock interviews, so schedule an appointment and start working on your interview skills. You can pay a professional service to write your resume, but use free campus resources first.

2. Talk to people

Reach out to your network and let them know what types of opportunities you are looking for. Talk to everyone from your recently employed friends, to your parents, your friends parents, your fraternity/sorority connections, professors, internship supervisors, mentors and members of professional associations. Your network of people might be bigger than you think. Don’t rely only on internet searches and sending off countless resumes. Word of mouth can be a powerful tool. 

In order to talk to people about what you want to do, you need to first have an idea of what you want to do. So, think critically and carefully about your next steps so that you will be able to identify opportunities as they come up. Get out there and attend networking events. If you are intimidated by the prospect of going to a networking event alone, find a fellow senior who is in the same boat and go together, but don’t spend the night only talking to each other.



3. Balance your time

Set aside atleast two hours a day for job search related activities. Finding a job isn’t just about sending out resumes. Dedicate time to researching companies, finding networking events to attend, using social media, scheduling informational interviews, touching up your resume, writing cover letters, applying to openings and following up.

It doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you get organized, schedule your time and don’t try to do everything at once. You still have classes, study time,
campus activities, maybe an internship, job, a social life and other things going on, so organization is key!

4. Use social media wisely

I know I said a few times that you have to get off of the computer and talk to people, but that is because I don’t want you to depend ONLY on the internet for your job search. Social media can be a valuable tool in finding a job. If you haven’t yet, join LinkedIn, a social network for the business world. You can create a profile and connect with potential employers, research companies and discover job or internship openings. Follow companies that you are interested in on Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, SnacpChat and Facebook. Those connections will allow you to see how potential employers engage with their audiences.

Before you begin, inspect your own social media sites for compromising content and consider activating all of the privacy settings. You may use social media to peak at potential employers, they may do the same to you so be careful about what is available to the public.

I know I said four things, but as a bonus I have to tell you to enjoy yourself. Don’t get so caught up in the job search that you fail to enjoy and embrace the last few months of this unique time in your life. Celebrate the accomplishment of completing your degree! You can be serious and diligent about your job search and still make time to live in the moment and create more memories before you say good-bye to your college days.

Five Books for the Broke College Student

Five Books for the Broke College Student

Being a broke college student is not fun, but being broke after college could really suck. Don’t bury your head too far in the sand and ignore that fact that your student loan debts are mounting with each semester. Before you graduate, educate your self on how to make wise financial decisions. Before you get that dream job with the professional salary, know what to do with the money you will make.

via GIPHY

At the end of the four, five or six years of college,  Sallie Mae or whomever your student loan company is, will be patiently waiting to swoop in and take a big chuck out of your first big girl/boy working professional paycheck.

Start the process today of creating a plan to attack your student loan debt quickly.  Get it together so you can kick Sallie Mae to the curb as soon as possible.

In addition to understanding what to do with your money, you also need to know how to find a job so you can make some money. College doesn’t always teach you how to get a job, so it is up to you to understand how to launch your career.

These books are just a starting point to get you on your way to making and managing your money and career.

Recommended Reading

 The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

Okay, folks, do you want to turn those fat and flabby expenses into a well-toned budget? Do you want to transform your sad and skinny little bank account into a bulked-up cash machine? Then get with the program, people. There’s one sure way to whip your finances into shape, and that’s with The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition.
>>Buy Now

 

 


There is Life After College by Jeff Selingo

Saddled with thousands of dollars of debt, today’s college students are graduating into an uncertain job market that is leaving them financially dependent on their parents for years to come—a reality that has left moms and dads wondering: What did I pay all that money for?

>> Buy Now

 

 


The 21-Day Financial Fast: Your Path to Financial Peace and Freedom, by Michelle Singletary

In The 21-Day Financial Fast, award-winning writer and The Washington Post columnist Michelle Singletary proposes a field-tested financial challenge. For twenty-one days, participants will put away their credit cards and buy only the barest essentials.  Thousands of individuals have participated in the fast and as a result have gotten out of debt and become better managers of their money and finances. The 21-Day Financial Fast is great for earners at any income-level or stage of life, whether you are living paycheck-to-paycheck or just trying to make smarter financial choices.  >> Buy Now


Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! by Robert Kiyosaki

It has since become the #1 Personal Finance book of all time… translated into dozens of languages and sold around the world.

Rich Dad Poor Dad is Robert’s story of growing up with two dads — his real father and the father of his best friend, his rich dad — and the ways in which both men shaped his thoughts about money and investing. The book explodes the myth that you need to earn a high income to be rich and explains the difference between working for money and having your money work for you.  >> Buy Now


The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter–And How to Make the Most of Them Now byDr. Meg Jay

Our “thirty-is-the-new-twenty” culture tells us the twentysomething years don’t matter. Some say they are a second adolescence. Others call them an emerging adulthood. Dr. Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist, argues that twentysomethings have been caught in a swirl of hype and misinformation, much of which has trivialized what is actually the most defining decade of adulthood. >> Buy Now




College Doesn’t Teach You How To Get a Job

College Doesn’t Teach You How To Get a Job

Much to the dismay of many parents (and students) who fork over thousands of dollars to institutions of higher education, going to college doesn’t teach you HOW to get a job.

Throughout my career I have encountered many students who wait until their senior year to start trying to figure out what the next move is. Career planning starts when you begin college, not three months before graduation. Senior year comes and well-meaning parents ask, “how is the job search” or “have you found a job yet”, but fail to recognize often that their soon to be college graduate doesn’t even know where to even start looking.

While your philosophy professor can help you expand your horizons, his job isn’t to teach you how to put together a resume.

So if college doesn’t teach you how to get a job, who does? It is a combination of asking others who have been where you are, reading and learning along the way. Your professors are largely there for the purpose of equipping you with knowledge about subject areas. While your philosophy professor can help you expand your horizons, his job isn’t to teach you how to put together a resume. They are experts in their fields, not the field of career preparation. Connect with industry professionals, use career services on campus, join professional networks, build your network and do internships.

Figuring out what you want to pursue and planning your career does not happen only in the confines of the classroom. If you are a freshman, use these tips to get ahead of the game. If you are a senior, all hope is not lost, you just need to act quickly.

1. Start on Campus

Some colleges require students to complete some sort of career awareness class that will use self-assessment tools to point you in the right direction of the best career fit. These courses also sometimes provide general information on the job search process, writing resumes and interviewing. For the most part, they tend to be 1 or 2 credit hours and are not super challenging. Take this course your first or second year and it can potentially save you some time (and money) by helping you pick the right major sooner.

2. Don’t Waste Your Breaks

When you are in college, life revolves around fall, spring and summer break. Did you know that the best summer internships are found in the winter. How can you maximize those weeks between fall and spring semester? You can volunteer, do an internship, take a non-academic course online that can teach you a different skill, read books, and do informational interviews. I am not saying that you have to be all work, all the time, but I am saying to not waste your time.

3. Intern Early, Intern Often

You MUST complete an internship before you graduate. I don’t care if your major doesn’t require it, I am telling you, do an internship. I’ve placed over 400 interns with major companies across the country, many of whom went on to be hired. It is actually in your best interest to do multiple internships. I did eight internships in college so I know it can be done.

When you graduate, you will be competing against thousands of other recent graduates also with good grades from a good college. You have to begin to separate yourself from the pack. Internships give you the hands on experience that can be the difference maker for you. Finding an internship doesn’t have to be daunting or overwhelming. You can download my free Internship Manual Toolkit for quick and easy steps to getting your internship search underway.

4. Learn How to Network

Networking doesn’t have to be scary. The process of expanding the circle of people you know is something that you must embrace to be successful. Who you know can be the key to landing a great internship and potentially a great job. It isn’t just about collecting friends on Facebook or followers on Instagram, I’m talking about building quality relationships with people that will be invested in, and care about your future.

Your network will supply you with internship or job leads, connect you to mentors and connect you to others. Aim to fill your network with peers as well as professionals. Building your network is not just about finding people that you can help you out, but also about helping others along the way.

5. Understand the Tools

In today’s job search climate you also need a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is a social media network used for building professional contacts. Social media can be a burden or a blessing. Be mindful of your social media accounts across the board, what you post and what you are tagged in. Employers are often checking out your accounts looking for things that might eliminate you from competition. Understand the power of social media and how you can connect with companies and learn about brands and internships, but be sure you don’t let these tools come back to bite you.

You must have a professionally done resume for your job search. I’ve developed an affordable online course The New Grads Guide to Creating a Standout Resume which takes you from A-Z in creating the best resume possible. My course includes resume templates, videos and worksheets to walk you through creating a resume and awesome cover letter. If you are not ready to invest in my course, head over to your career services office to get assistance with putting together a resume that reflects your skills and abilities. 

Strong interviewing skills will also be something that you should build over your collegiate career. Participate in mock interviews and get feedback so you can perfect your interview style. Interviews happen in person, over Skype, on the phone or even over lunch. Start learning about the interview process in general so you’ll be able to find your comfort zone in all situations.

Career planning is an ongoing activity. Even after you have laid out your plan for what you want, it will likely change over the course of your college career. As you meet new people, expand your interests, become a leader, get involved and complete internships, your plan will change, and that is totally OK! Your college education will give you the substance and the background qualifications to go after your career, but the How is up to you.