With two years of good grades and solid recommendations, finding a great internship should be no problem at all, right? Not exactly. Without careful planning, you are usually going to have to settle for a so-so internship. Is it possible to do better? Perhaps. (I know you appreciate my optimism. :D)
Here is your supply list:
- A list of your main goals written down. Be very clear on what kind of internship you want and for what reasons. Be as specific or immature as you want.
- A great resume. If you don’t have a clue how to do this, ask for help. I may write an article about it somebody, but probably not. Resumes get beaten to death on the internet.
- Thank you cards. Believe me, I know you aren’t going to be thankful at all if you aren’t chosen, but cards are archaic pleasantries at their finest. (Don’t put dinosaur stickers or candy on them.) Maybe if you send one you’ll get hired out of pity.
Got it? Now go visit your college’s career counseling office and find somebody to talk to about your list. They will probably start with the local companies depending on what your internship goals are. Local companies often network with nearby colleges so it is usually less difficult to obtain an internship nearby.
If your college isn’t near any companies, they should still have an internship list available. If the companies on this list don’t sit well on your palate, you will either have to settle for something easy to obtain, or try your luck with a company not involved with your college. If you are really interested in a particular company that isn’t involved with your college, especially if the intern opportunities are competitive, transferring may be your best option.
Filling out online applications only does not do much good. You have heard it before, but networking is the key to get a foot in the door anywhere. The first stop should be some of your favorite professors in your major department. Often they will have research opportunities or can get in touch with some colleagues who can help you out. Approach them in person during office hours. If you do not really know many professors, seeking an alumnus mentor is a good option. Unless completely busy, somebody who graduated from your college in year’s past should be more than happy to help you. If you keep up the grades, he/she can get you an interview.
What if you are a Freshman? Is it possible to find an internship? Sure, though admittedly it is slim-pickings. The best option is to take the best internship available, try to obtain some leadership experience during it, and then use it as leverage for your next one.
If your college has a poor selection then you may be able to find some more options on the internet, depending on your interests.
After everything is finished, go ahead and send out your thank you cards and see what happens. You never know.
I hope the main thing you have derived from this article is how important it is in the adult world to actually talk to people and build relationships. Without other people, internships and companies wouldn’t exist.