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!
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.
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 ACTION: Find 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!
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.
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.
As a college student you probably need more money. Tuition, room & board, books, Uber, Amazon… everything starts to add up. The idea of doing an unpaid internship does not make anyone excited. You know you should do an internship of some sort before you graduate, but what do you do when you’re broke and offered an unpaid internship? An unpaid internship is better than no internship, but you have to figure out if it is worth it for you.
I did eight internships in college. Some of them paid, some not. I was a broke college student too, but I saw opportunity in each of the unpaid positions I took and I was hungry to build my resume. I didn’t just take any unpaid internship that came my way. It had to enhance what I was learning in class, and I still had to be able to afford to work for no paycheck. The experiences on my resume when I graduated didn’t say “paid or unpaid,” they just demonstrated how prepared I was to start my career.
The best way to avoid having to take an unpaid internship is to find a paid internship. Download my free Internship Manual Toolkit so that you can get on the path to finding your dream gig.If the best opportunity you find is unpaid, here are four strategies I’ve used to make it through the unpaid periods.
Work a Job While You Intern
During my unpaid internships, I always worked at least one additional part-time job. If you are interning over the summer, that is a much easier thing to do. If your summer internship is full-time, that leaves you weekends and some evenings to work a job. It doesn’t leave you as much time for fun and socializing but, if you are about trying to gain experiences and earn some income, then it is the trade off you make.
In my senior year, while doing an unpaid internship with the New York State Power Authority, I also worked part-time at the public affairs office on campus at SUNY Oswego. I was able to do this through careful planning and having select days for each obligation. In today’s global economy, you can seek out jobs online that will make time management less hectic. If your internship allows you to do real world projects and build a portfolio, you will have work to show off and start freelancing through sites like fivver.com.
If the internship requires transportation that you can’t afford, have a conversation with the manager about helping with the cost of transportation. If the company is on a bus route or metro/subway line, they might be able to assist you by providing a bus pass or metro/subway card. If you have to drive a long way, ask for a gas card. In one of my internships I was asked to drive to a location that was over 20 miles one-way. Even though that internships was already paid, I told them the expenses for gas would keep me from being able to do it. They offered to let me use their gas card for free fill ups every week. I happily went to work.
Negotiate the Hours
Ask if you can work fewer hours so that you can make some money at a part-time job. Sophomore year I had an unpaid spring semester internship for academic credit with a AAA baseball team. Interns where offered the opportunity to stay with the team through the summer as full-time interns, but still unpaid.
At the time, my career goal was to work in public relations for a pro sports team so it was important for me to stay connected to the sports world for as long as possible. Financially, it just wasn’t going to work for me to be a full-time unpaid intern. I’d already proven myself as a solid intern over the spring, so I approached my manager and asked for a schedule that would allow me to only work on game-day. That modification to part-time allowed me to work two part-time jobs in addition to my internship.
Is Being Unpaid Worth It
Think about what you will get out of the internship. Some benefits include:
Will doing the internship make you more competitive for getting a job when you graduate? Will the internship make you more attractive for highly paid internships in the future? Think beyond the immediate moment to the longer term benefit of taking the unpaid gig. Ask a lot of questions and ask about the outcome of previous interns that have worked there. Not all internships (paid or unpaid) are created equal. Do your research and check off the list of things that are true benefits. Giving up 40+ unpaid hours for experience may not be worth it if you could find a great fulfilling opportunity that only takes up half the time, and still allows you to work elsewhere and make some money.
Fair vs Unfair
I believe that interns contribute to the workplace and should be compensated. Seek balance. Don’t let yourself be taken complete advantage of. If you are sent out into the field with no training, never meet with your manager, seem to be there only for the purpose of making the boss money, get no instruction, and feel like it is complete waste of your time, then let it go. Your time is valuable too.
Recent lawsuits have led to changes by many companies who now pay their interns. Some companies hold fast to the idea that what the student is getting in terms of experience is more important than money. While experience can not always be measured in monetary gain, unpaid internships offer an advantage to students that can afford to do them.
College costs continue to rise, just as the cost of living keeps going up. For interns who have family support and financial means, a paid internship isn’t something they have to think twice about doing. For the intern who provides family support, an unpaid internship is just another hurdle in the long line of issues already stacked against them. Interning with the promise of experience that may lead to a job in the future, doesn’t pay the bills when they are due.
I never had a full-time unpaid internship because I just couldn’t afford it. That sadly kept me from being able to take advantage of other internships that I might have been able to get. At the end of my college career however, eight internships later, I did not have trouble finding a job. If that one shiny bright company isn’t willing to pay you, and you can’t afford the time away from work, look harder and find a better opportunity. I actually created an internship one day out of a random encounter. It is detailed in my book, The Internship Manual: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting the Internship of Your Dreams.
Internships matter. Make it your business to do multiple internships before you graduate so that you are in the best position to launch your career. I am an advocate of completing at least four internships before graduating. Internship are not just about making money, it is about starting the process of shaping your career, learning more about yourself, adding to your skills and getting ready for the real world work force. Start the path to get your dream internship and it might lead to your dream job.
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.”
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.
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.