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!
As your internship ends, it is important to pause and evaluate your internship experience. I don’t mean just the evaluation your internship site asked you to do, but asking yourself important questions about your experience.
Every internship experience is filled with positives and negatives. Over the course of 8-12 weeks, you’ve gained new hard and soft skills to add to your resume. What I want you to pause and ponder about, are the intangibles that are not going to be listed on your resume.
What was the biggest challenge during your internship and how did you overcome it? Did you work on a difficult project, deal with with a co-worker you didn’t really like, or have a supervisor who didn’t seem to have enough time for you. What did you do? What would you have done differently? How would you handle that situation if it were your first real job out of college and not a short term internship?
Your personal evaluation is about moving beyond the surface, beyond the impressive PowerPoint presentation you made, to understanding how your life was impacted. The learning experiences outside of the classroom that prepare you for the real world workplace challenges.
Maybe your challenege wasn’t necessarily at your internship site. Perhaps you did an internship in a different city and your biggest challenge was transportation. I remember juggling an unpaid internship with two part-time jobs one summer. Even if the challenge was external, how will you approach your next internship or full-time job differently because of what you overcame?
Are You Still Excited About Your Major
Did your internship get you more or less excited about your major? Did you come away with a deeper interest or run away dazed and confused?
It’s one thing to learn skills in a classroom and another to actually apply them. Is what you are learning in school matching the work place?
Are there new classes that you want to add to your schedule now that you were exposed to something different?
If you are having second thoughts about your career choice, don’t throw in the towel just yet. Give it one more chance. It could have been that the organization or company was too big (or small), the department was poorly ran, or they misrepresented what the internship was really about.
Let’s say that you are a finance major and ended up doing a lot of writing for your internship. You discovered that you loved writing more than working with numbers. No need to necessarily become a journalism major. Instead, look for elective courses in writing and/or journalism, and consider a minor if it works. In addition, you can join the school newspaper as contributor to the financal section to start earning bylines. You could also decide to start you own financial blog. Get creative with looking for ways to try out different interests.
Reality is the career you have been dreaming about just might not be that exciting. Give it another shot, but in a different work environment.
Testing the Waters
Part of the great thing about internships is testing the waters in different work environments. I did eight internships between undergrad and grad school. My experience as a public affairs intern for a large nuclear power plant was vastly different than my marketing internship for a private medical advisory firm. Both were places I may not have applied to work post college, but proved to be super interesting internship learning opportunities.
In addition to different types of work spaces, I tried out different fields. Although I was a public relations major, I did internships in public relations, writing, sales and marketing. I stretched and challenged myself beyond the familiar. I also wanted to be able to cast a wide net when it came time to look for a job.
If you think you want to dip your toes into another area, use your next internship to break out of the box and learn something different. Test your social media skills, learn to code, take a sales internship. Jump into something new and it could turn out to be your hidden passion.
Very quickly in my internship life I realized I hated being stuck at a desk all day. I needed variety and movement in whatever path I chose. As a result, when I started applying for jobs before graduation, I looked for jobs that would offer variety. I knew what type of work environment would allow me to thrive and what would be depressing. When I started my career in college admissions, I traveled domestically about 30-40% of the year.
The people I met also left impressions on me, good and bad. Some of my internship supervisors became mentors that I am still in contact with today. If you are still on the countdown to your last day, end your internship with a bang. It is important to keep the connections you’ve made going. Some of the people you met can also help you evaluate what you just experienced.
It is totally okay if the internship experience wasn’t all that you thought it would be. My multiple internships were all different, some better than others. All left an impression on me personally and academically and influenced my career goals.
My internships, my nearly 20 year career in higher education, time spent managing a non-profit internship program all led me to starting this blog and writing a book about my internship experiences. I would have never even considered higher education as a career option if I hadn’t interned in my college’s public affairs office for two years. You never know in the moment, the future impact your internship may have on your life. Keep an open mind, and keep going on to the next opportunity!
Maybe you started looking late or didn’t even consider doing an internship this summer. Reality has hit and now school is out. You can have a great summer even without an internship.
In between binging on Netflix and a road trip or two, here are some very creative ways to spend your summer without an internship.
Volunteer opportunities come in all shapes and sizes. Look for causes that you care about deeply. There is likely an organization dedicated to it that you can spend time working with this summer. Examples might include promoting organ donor registration, planting gardens in your neighborhood, summer sports leagues, and the list goes on. Google is your friend. You can also search site like www.volunteer.gov/ for opportunities in your area.
While you are giving back, you can also learn new skills that can help you in the future. Non-profits often lack resources, so the chance to build a social media marketing campaign, learn about budgets, recruit volunteers etc. all present the opportunity to put real skills into action.
One summer, I went to take a donation of clothing to a women’s shelter. Intrigued by the services they provided, I asked to come back the next day to learn more about how they served the women and families. After my tour I asked about an internship in the public relations department. I got it.
Although it was an unpaid internship, I enjoyed spending time with the organization and helping others. However, because it was unpaid, I could only devote about 10 hours per week so I could still work and save money for school. Internship opportunities are everywhere.
2. Get a job
Part-time or full-time jobs in the summer can be hit or miss. I literally had like 15 jobs over the course of my college career. I worked retail at multiple places (Wegmans, Radio Shack, Lord & Taylor, a hardware store and more), was a counselor at recreation center, box office cashier at a movie theatre and was a receptionist at a hospital, all in between my multiple internships. Working at the movie theatre was actually a very fun job that I kept for 2 years. I mean free movies!
My part-time jobs gave me money for school, helped me learn to manage my time, and allowed me to work with a variety of people and personalities. Get out there and start walking into businesses and knocking on doors. In addition to online searches through sites like indeed.com and careerbuilder.com.
Your summer job can also provide you with future employment references. Take advantage of the opportunity to look at your summer job and contribute creatively to the environment. Offer suggestions and learn about the business – whatever it is. As a manager, one of the questions I used to ask interns during the interview process was, “Tell me about a time at a previous job or internship where you made a suggestion to improve a process?”
I wasn’t looking for a prospective intern so tell me they introduced a cost cutting measure saving the company $1 million. I was checking to see that they were actively engaged and thinking of ways to contribute to their work environment.
3. Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC’s)
Massive Online Open Courses are awesome and free. The idea of classes over the summer might not immediately be appealing, but it could be a great experience. You can learn more about a particular area or dive into an entirely new subject.
You can learn to code, build websites, manage social media, learn a foreign language, discover analytics or study basic business principles. You will gain knowledge, skills and possibly discover a new passion. If you are thinking about changing majors or picking up a minor, MOOC’s can be a chance to take on a new subject without the pressure of messing up your GPA.
4 . Informational interviews
Informational interviews are interviews you conduct with professionals in positions that you want to learn more about. If you think you want be an architect, interview an architect. Want to be a mechanical engineer, interview an engineer.
Informational interviews are the perfect way to explore careers and learn first-hand if you want to go down that path. If you have multiple ideas for career choices, then you can spend the summer doing 3-5 interviews. As a bonus, the person might let you shadow them for a day so that you get an inside peak a day in the life.
In 2013, the 6-year graduation rate was 59 percent at public institutions, 65 percent at private nonprofit institutions, and 32 percent at private for-profit institutions. A lot of college students do not graduate in four-years.
The extra time in college costs money – a lot of money. It results in more debt but also, lost earnings from not being in the work force. Download your free guide, 5 Tips to Make Sure you Graduate in 4 Years to make sure you deveop a plan.
In short, make sure you are on pace to graduate on time. Do a degree audit and make sure that the courses you’ve completed already and are registered for, meet the requirements for your major and degree. If you are behind, you need to spend the summer putting together a game plan to catch up. It could mean taking a course at a community college (you can also do this to get ahead), taking a summer course at your school or online, using CLEP tests to earn credit or figuring out a potential independent study option.
If you are nearing your third or fourth year and you are not on track to graduate on time, you might need to take an overloaded schedule or find an internship for academic credit to graduate on time. Don’t wait until it is too late.
6. Keep looking for an Internship
In May and even early June you might still be able to land an internship. It might not be your dream internship but an experience nonetheless. One month – 6 weeks is still a good amount of time to test the waters of a new profession, test your classroom application skills and make some important networking connections.
If you didn’t land an internship this summer, all hope is not lost for you to still have a productive summer. If you have other suggestions, share them below.
Congrats is in order because you worked hard and got an internship! Now, you need to hustle to find summer housing. Interning in a new city can be an exciting opportunity to learn a new place, gain independence and test out a potential future new home.
The clock is ticking to make this happen and you need to step up your housing search – fast. If you are still waiting to hear back from an internship interview, do some research so that you are ready to jump into action if an offer comes in. It doesn’t matter if you are going to Seattle, Washington or Washington, DC, I’ve outlined a few questions you need to answer for yourself ASAP.
There are four basic housing questions you should be researching now:
1) Where am I going to live?
Start with the local colleges and universities in the area to see if they allow summer housing for non-university students. Colleges including Columbia, FIT and NYU are a few places to start in NYC. Also in NYC you have the option of going through Educational Housing Services (EHS).
EHS offers student and intern-only residences in six New York City neighborhoods.
Los Angeles bound interns can start with UCLA summer housing as an option. You may need to provide proof of your internship in order to secure a place on the UCLA campus. Another popular option is the Park La Brea Apartments which offers short-term leases for the summer.
Washington, DC is a another student friendly destination with intern housing options available at George Washington University, George Mason, American University and many others. If campus housing isn’t your style, you can try and sublet an apartment through Craigslist or AirBnB (be careful). If you can afford it, corporate housing through Oakwood Temporary Housing is available in many major cities as well.
It is also time to put your network to work. Start asking around to family, friends, fraternity brothers, sorority sisters, religious organizations, professional associations and other resources to see if someone has an extra bedroom or couch for you to crash on.
2) How much is it going to cost me?
Probably more than you thought if you are going from a small city to a big city situation. You could find yourself handing over $2,000 or more of your hard earned summer cash for housing in New York. A room at New York University is going to set you back between $222 and $481 per week depending on your room choice. The meal plan will cost you an additional $149 per week for the most affordable option.
If you are headed to Washington, DC and considering housing at George Washington University, expect to pay between $280 to $434 per week for quads to single rooms. The difference between an eight-week internship and a 12-week internship could be as much as $1,000 more out of pocket. You need to also understand if there are any additional application fees and/or deposits and if payments are due in full or through payment plans.
The costs for some places will be charged all up front, while others may allow for monthly or weekly payments. If you don’t have the full amount due, find the housing option that lets you make payments.
As a student, as much as I wanted to intern in a bigger city, my pockets just weren’t that deep. But, if you aren’t a senior you have the chance to start planning now. Save your money this year so that next summer you can intern in your dream location.
3) How am I going to eat?
If you are living in a major city on a $15 per hour intern salary, you can’t afford to eat out for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Really you can barely afford to eat! Either you will need a meal plan or a kitchen to cook. For this reason, I do think that living on campus and selecting a meal plan could turn out to be a great option for many students.
Living in an apartment will give you the ability to cook, which is probably the cheapest option. If you can’t cook, you need to learn a few quick, inexpensive meals before you go. Make sure you know where the grocery stores are. Renting a place on AirBNB only to find out you need a car to get to the nearest restaurants and grocery stores would make summer really hard if you don’t have a car.
Some cities have awesome public transportation systems including trains and buses. Get to know the routes, the costs and how long your commute will be. Understand that all transportation systems are not created equal. The New York City subway is vastly different than DC metro train system. Understand where you will be living and if you will need a car to even get to the train station.
West coast interns will be best served by having a car. If you don’t have one, just make sure you live on a bus line and not too far from your internship. Taking public transportation or paying for gas on a long commute can start to impact your pockets. Make a budget that includes transportation expenses so that you are not hit with surprises to your budget later.
Obviously you will likely have the option of Uber, Lyft or another rideshare service. Most cities have one or the other, but not all cities do so make sure you know that beforehand. There are also bikeshare programs and services like Zipcar that might be an option for you as well. Whatever your method that you plan to use, know your numbers. Have a transportation budget that won’t let you broke.
Embrace the Experience
These are just a few things to bring to your attention as you go through this search process. Interning in a new city can be an exciting adventure but it does take some planning.
Let the adventure take you beyond your internship. Get to know the city, experience the culture, the foods and the people. In addition to getting to know your fellow interns and co-workers, you will meet people in your summer housing unit. You can also stretch yourself and look for meeting or professional networking events sponsored by organizations you are a part of.
In my book The Internship Manual, I dedicate an entire chapter to this topic, “Get Out of the Comfort Zone: Interning Away From Home”. Pick up a copy now so you can learn all you need about finding housing and about being a rock star intern.
The fall semster is underway, so let’s get it started! Doesn’t matter if it’s your first semester of college or the start of your senior year, it is time to put in the work to make your internship dreams come true.
Taking action right now gives you the chance to pick up a fall internship. In September there are still plenty of internship openings that are not filled. In the event your fall semester plate is already full, starting now gives you plenty of time to find a spring or summer 2019 gig.
It may seem too early, but believe me it is not. Great example of how quickly things can move, the Viacom spring 2019 internship deadline is September 30th, just about a month from today. The good news is that there are hundreds of thousands of smaller companies, mid-sized, and non-profit orgranzations that take internss all throughout the year. They key is just to get started.
An Internship is Not Optional
The first hurdle of getting started in the internship process is embracing that this is not optional, but an integral part of your college education. Employers expect you to have internship experience.
Your degree is only a piece of what makes you a candidate. Experience combined with your leadership skills, critical thinking ability, GPA, technical skills and analytical skills work together to present you as an entire package. Rarely is just having a degree, or even the college you went to enough.
On the flip side, internships give you the chance to expand your hard and soft skills while teaching you things like networking and navigating the real world of work. It was through my multiple internship experiences that I became a better writer, was exposed to a variety of work environments, and gained marketing and sales skills I didn’t get in my classes as a public relations major. You owe it to yourself to enhance your marketability by doing multiple internships.
Check With Your Department About Course Credit
I did eight internships in college. My internships were a mixture of paid, unpaid, big company, small non-profits, some for academic credit and some not for credit.
Every internship doesn’t have to be done for course credit, but if you can get credit, it is an absolute win-win. If you can get an internship, academic credit and get paid, that it is a win-win-win.
Some majors or departments won’t let you do an internship for credit until a certain point in your degree program. That’s fine, set your sights on a paid internship and unpaid as a last resort. Then do another when you get to that point in your degree program.
In a lot of majors, you can do an internship at anytime. Visit your academic department to learn about any internship requirements. From there they can guide you to a list of approved intern sites or to the career services office.
I never relied only on my academic advisor to know if I was on track to graduate, you shouldn’t either. Take ownership. Get a degree audit every semester so that you don’t find out in the final hour that you can’t graduate on time.
If you can do an internship for credit then you might be able to pick up an extra class and complete 18 credit hours without taking an extra class. That is a good way to catch up on credits. If you are on a standard 120 degree credit program that means four semesters of at least five classes (15 credits per semester). In the event you took only four classes (12 credit hours) during one semester, you are already behind. If you need more than 120 credits or go to a tri-mester school, do your math.
Do you know where career services is on your campus? Depending on the size of your institution, there could be multiple career services offices seperated by college, or their could be one central college office. Figure out where you need to be.
Starting usually mid September through early November colleges across the country hold on-campus career and graduate school fairs. Attending an on-campus career fair literally brings hundreds of employers to your campus who are there for you. They are there looking for interns and future employees. Missing the career fair could mean missed opportunity.
You want to visit career services to 1) find out when the career fair is and 2) get help with your resume and cover letter. Career services can also usually assist you with interview tips and techniques or even doing a mock interview.
Career services advisors tend to have human resources and recruiter contacts with many companies, so use their connections to get the inside track on the best internships and future job opportunities.
Start Your Internship Search
In addition to finding out about academic credit and making plans to attend the career fair you should start your own internship search. Download my free internship manual toolkit to keep organized and understand the best way to do your internship search.
Finding an internship is training for finding a job. The better you become at this process now, the better you will be prepared to look for a job when the time comes.
Your internship search shoud be a combnitation of muliplte resources. Online search engines, company websites, internship programs, career services and networking. When the time comes, your job search will consist of many of these same methods. Here are 5 Ways to Find an Internship that work.
Proper planning will position you to find the best internship opportunities and fit them into your schedule. Over the course of your college education participating in different internships lets you explore other areas that are not withing your major, try different sized companies, enhance the skills you have learned in class, make connections, meet mentors and build your confidence.
Don’t just show up for the last day cake and cookies, end your summer internship with a bang. No matter if you are going out to join the working world, or back to school, ending your internship strongly can help you land more internships or a job when you graduate.
How does ending with a bang help you get a future job? Doing the few simple actions outlined below can show your manager that you know how to finish strong. Even if you started off shaky, finishing strong is a way to demonstrate professional maturity, gratitude for the internship and a desire to work for the company.
1. Secure Contact Information
Before your internship is over, start the process of transfering email addresses and phone numbers to your personal email account. You will likely lose access to your employer provided email a few days after your intenrship is over. If all of the contacts that you want are stuck in that email, you will have lost them. Make sure your personal email address is a simple one that allows people to easily identify you. You may need to get a reference or recommendation from one of them in the future.
2. Set up a LinkedIn Profile
Another way to keep in contact is through LinkedIn. If you don’t already have a LinkedIn profile, make one before your internship is over. Once you have your profile, start asking your colleagues if you can connect with them on Linkedin. For many profesionals, LinkedIn is the preferred method of staying connected. Many companies turn to LinkedIn to post internships, jobs and review resumes.
3. Update Your Resume and Portfolio
While the projects are still fresh in your mind, start updating your resume. When your internship is over, you can add more info to your resume. This is also your chance to make sure you secure any physical or electronic copies of projects that you worked on. Make sure that if there is any sensative information that you worked on that you receive the proper authorization. While you are updating your resume, update your LinkedIn profile to match. If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready when opportunity arises.
Buy a box of thank-you cards and write handwritten notes to your co-workers and supervisors. Sending an email, a tweet or text is not how you leave a lasting impression. Not likley that the other interns will make the same effort.Who doesn’t like getting handwritten notes?
5. Ask About Upcoming Opportunities
If you are graduating, let your manager know that you are interested in any full-time openings they have. They may not have any openings, but things change all the time. If your manager knows that you are interested in working for the company, when something comes up you may get the call. In the event you are returning to school, you can ask about continuning your internship through the fall, even remotely depending on the job.
Between ungrad and grad school I did eight internships. Each internship left me with a unique experience and perspective. Reflect on your internship not just in regards to the projects for your portfolio, but how you grew as a person. What did you learn about yourself? What did you learn about what you value in a future employer? Did you hate being in an office all day? The internship experience is a unique peak into life after college. Take advantage of the opportunity and learn from it.