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!


 

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
  2. INROADS
  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!

I Can’t Find a Qualified Intern

I Can’t Find a Qualified Intern

You’ve posted your add and now you are anxiously waiting for the resumes to roll in. Problem is, you can’t seem to find a qualifed intern. The resumes you have receieved don’t line up with the position description or, you aren’t getting any resumes at all.

What’s the deal? You are trying to give a young person an opportunity to learn your business and gain some real experience, but can’t seem to find the right person for the job.

Well, it is possible that you are the problem.

Often employers embark on the journey to find an intern without a firm understanding of what they really need in an intern, where to find internship candidates and what attracts good internship candidates. You might be guilty of one or all of these things. Take a step back and evaluate a few things about your internship opening and see how your program measures up in your quest to find a qualified intern.

Don’t be cheap, pay your interns

Nobody wants to work for free. Maybe 20 years ago unpaid internships were popular, but 20 years ago college didn’t cost on average almost $30,000 a year for an in-state public college. The average private school costs about $50,000 per year (source). With those types of bills looming and many college students needing to contribute heavily to pay for college, working for free just isn’t always feasible. If your internship doesn’t pay, you might miss out on quality candidates based on the fact that they can’t afford to work for you.

Unpaid programs can be biased towards those that can afford to work for free. Your talent and applicant pool will automatically decrease. If you want to compete for the best talent, then you need to find a way to pay your interns.

In addition to limiting your internship pool, unpaid internships are also potentially against the law. There are certain criteria you must meet as an employer in order to offer an unpaid internship.

You need an employee not an intern

Internships for undergraduate students that require two years of professional work experience are just insane and unfair. Internships are about gaining experience, about learning, about teaching. To want an intern with professional level credentials is just not reasonable, especially if you are not paying. Yes, you need your intern to have some skills and ability to contribute, but measure your needs and wants versus the reality of what an intern can bring.




If your internships is designed specficially for a recent graduate or graduate student, be specific with what you are looking for. Don’t be surprised, however, if candidates with stronger credentials are looking for some type of compensation.

Searching for Qualified Interns

Where you looking for interns? Have you posted to indeed.com and the other major job boards. That’s a good start, but when searching for interns go to where the interns are. There are websites and job boards for companies specifically looking for interns. Internship job boards like wayup.com, youtern.com and internships.com provide more exposure to your target audience. LinkedIn is also a no brianer which gives you the chance to review the background of your candidates. If you have your own website, make sure you post it there as well.

Social media sites including Instagram, SnapChat, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook can’t be ignored when looking for college students. Go where your market is.

Locally, check with the colleges and universities in your own backyard. Start with career services offices and then go to the appropraite academic departments.

Lastly, partner with an organization that seeks out talent for you. If you have the budget to participate, internship programs like the T. Howard Foundation, Year Up, and other internship recruitement organizations can provide you with resumes of pre-screened qualified candidates to fill your openings.

Write the right description

Does your internship job descprition make you want to work there? If the opportunity you are offering doesn’t sound interesting to you, then it may not be appealing to anyone else either. Making copies and getting coffee is not the “real world” experience students are looking for. In addition to the qualifications for the role, your ad needs to communicate what the intern will learn, the benefits, responsibilities and skills they will gain.

Looking for the right fit, the right intern, starts with understanding your internship program. Here are 10 Steps to Launching a Successful Internship Program so that you can use to evaluate and understand your program and in turn, attract the right candidate.

Interns can be a wonderful addition to your team. Don’t give up the search, just make sure you are searching the right way.