How to Find and Apply to Your Dream College Internship
Whether you're a college freshman or senior, internships are important to your post-secondary career. Here's how to land your dream college internship.
A college education is a big accomplishment, but graduation doesn't come with any guarantees. Finding a great job requires strategy on your part, and one of the best ways to get your foot in the door is with an internship.
With more kids graduating from college each year, the competition for quality internships is stiff. Today's employers are looking for workers with on-the-job experience, and the right internship can pave the way to success.
Landing a dream college internship requires some thought and planning on your part, but the benefits are definitely worth the effort. Here's some advice for finding an internship that's right for you.
Some industries have early deadlines for internships and choose their recruits as early as November. This gives the company extra help during the holiday months and gives you a jumpstart on making valuable connections within the industry.
It's never too early to start thinking about internships. Check with your university's career services office to learn more about available internships with companies that begin recruitment early.
Keep Your Options Open
It's important to have a general idea about what you want to do, but be flexible regarding which opportunities are open to you. If you're unsure about the specific career field you hope to be in, gaining experience in a number of areas can help you narrow your choices.
Many students believe they must find an internship in their field of study. But this can limit your options. Taking an internship in another field makes you a well-rounded employee and opens your eyes to new possibilities.
You may find you enjoy working for a non-profit, large corporation, small organization, or even a start-up. It's not hard to use your experience in one industry to find a job in another down the line.
Sometimes having different skills or unusual experience can help you stand out among other applicants.
Network Wherever You Go
When you're trying to find an internship, everyone on your radar is a possible lead. Talk to friends, family, former teachers, current teachers, college advisors, and career counselors.
You never know what kind of connections someone has until you ask. Your personal connections are your greatest sources for an internship and a future job.
The person sitting next to you in class could be your ticket to a fabulous internship or a potential new connection. Keep your eyes open and present yourself as friendly, courteous, and optimistic to those you meet.
Create a Rocking Cover Letter and Resume
Your resume should be brief and highlight your education, skills, and work experience. You want your resume to look professional and stand out without looking silly or overly ornate.
Don't underestimate the importance of spelling, grammar, and punctuation on a resume. One small mistake can send your resume to the bottom of the stack. Here are a few tips for writing a professional looking resume.
- The STAR format is a good option. In your work experience section, include the situation, task, action, and result.
- Quantify the impact of your accomplishments.
- Highlight your extracurricular activity, scholarships, memberships, and awards
- Keep it simple, clean, and concise.
Your cover letter should not be a repeat of your resume. Although cover letters aren't always a requirement, they are a great way to get an employer to notice what you have to offer.
Be sure to emphasize your interest in the position and explain how you are uniquely qualified for the role.
Make Social Media Work in Your Favor
Many recruiters turn to social media to screen candidates. Some may even ask for a link to your social media profiles. It's worth the effort to create a professional profile for networking sites such as LinkedIn.
A few tips for developing your profile include:
- Have a professional headshot for your profile picture.
- Delete any inappropriate pictures or content.
- Include any relevant work experience.
- Share your information when appropriate.
If you plan to work in fields such as writing, graphic design, or web development, an online portfolio can help you stand out. When you have the necessary materials in place, it makes applying for internships much easier.
If you experience a few rejections, don't despair. Eventually your hard work and preparation will pay off.
Prepare for Your Interview
Interviewing for an internship that you really want can be a bit intimidating. But if you prepare for the experience, you'll feel much more at ease.
Before any interview, do your homework. Research the company culture, what they do, who's on the team, their level of success, etc.
When they ask you why you hope to work there, you can answer with confidence and show your preparedness. They may ask you if you have any questions, so have a few questions in mind to ask the interviewer as well.
You want to appear professional, well-informed, and curious. This is not the time to discuss salary or future possibilities within the company.
Be positive, be yourself, and try not to stress. In most cases, your interviewer is on your side and not out to get you.
Once the interview is over, take a moment to celebrate. Then, remember to follow up. Within 24 hours, send a short email thanking them for the opportunity.
Mention that you enjoyed learning about the company and invite them to get in touch if they need any further information.
After this, it's time to wait as you continue to look for more opportunities. If you don't hear back from them by the date they promised, feel free to check back with them regarding the opportunity.
The Benefits of a College Internship
With a lot of hard work, planning, and the right opportunity, you'll be on your way to a college internship and a promising future. If you have questions about finding the right opportunity for you, we'd love to help.
We can help you connect with business leaders in your community and beyond. Contact us today for more information.