How to Find a Summer Internship

Summer internships are the most popular of them all, attracting hundreds of thousands of students from across the globe each year. This year will be more competitive than ever when it comes to finding these opportunities as not only college students but also high school students and recent grads will be seeking them. In this article, I detail exactly how to find a summer internship.

1.Get Organized.

Create Your Dream List. I suggest making an Intern Queen Dream List (I mention this in All Work, No Pay) where you detail out the company name, company contact information, required materials, deadline, and follow-up date.

Find Old Materials. Did you make a resume a few years back? Perhaps you wrote a cover letter? Pull all of these files up online and print them out for your own reference. Circle anything that needs to be updated or write notes on items you’ll need to add in.

Make List of Professional Contacts. Who are the professional contacts already in your network who might be helpful because they are hosting an internship program or they are connected to people who are looking?

2.Do Your Research.

Visit Your Career Center. Every school has a career center. Make an appointment to discuss your interests and potential internship opportunities that match. In this appointment, the career center can advise you according to your major or any other interests you mention. When a local company wants to start an internship program, the career center is often their first call. What this means is that the career center is usually in the loop, especially when it comes to local opportunities.

Go Directly to Company Websites. Go down your dream list and look up each company on your dream list. Go to the company website and click on their career section. If they don’t have one, see if they have an ‘about us’ section or a ‘contact us’. If the company doesn’t list any internship information, start making cold calls and asking how to apply. Take notes on everything you find.

Visit Internship Websites.  Several sites list internships but when it comes to websites that only list internships, there’s only a handful:



Visit Job & Internship Websites. There are a few well-known sites that specialize in jobs but also host internships:

Visit Job and Internship Aggregator Sites. These are websites that pull their job and internship listings from several different websites. For example, they’ll pull in jobs from Monster and Intern Queen.

3.Determine Your Priorities and Plan of Action

Go Back to the Dream List.  Pull out the Intern Queen Dream List you made and add anything else you came across during your research phase to it. You’ll want to prioritize and focus on the top 10 most interesting internships for yourself. If you’ve missed a company internship deadline, don’t add it to the dream list.

Give Yourself a Deadline. Put together a timeline for yourself. When will you block out time to apply for internships? You’ll need a few hours for every 5-10 internships you apply for, especially at the beginning when you might not have all of your materials ready. When should all of your applications be in by? What deadline are you giving yourself? Make sure you write down these goal dates in your planner or on your calendar.

Don’t Put Your Eggs in One Basket. Don’t just apply for 10 internships. If 10 days passes and you haven’t heard back from anyone, you are going to apply for more – remember that!

4.Get Your Materials Together.

Your Resume. If you don’t have a resume, we need to start from scratch and put one together. When you are putting together a resume or just updating it, this is another great opportunity to visit the career center. Not only will they help you put together a competitive document but they can also show you several examples of resume templates. When putting together your resume, read the job or internship posting carefully and make sure you include items that relate to what the company is looking for.

For example, if they want someone with social media experience, you should include something about your social experience on your resume. Make sure your education and expected graduation date is clear on the resume. Watch your formatting, margins, punctuation, and grammar. And most importantly – resumes should only be one page!

Your Cover Letter. The cover letter is key when applying to internships, I recommend always including one to help you stand out and connect the dots for the employer. The cover letter gives you a chance to personally convey why the company should hire you. Make sure you clearly state the position that you are applying for, the semester, and where you’ll be over the summer. Like the resume, the cover letter should only be one page.

Letters of Reference.  It’s always a good idea to have three strong letters of recommendation (or reference) on hand at all times. I suggest a professional letter from a previous employer or internship coordinator, a personal reference from a friend (preferably someone with a strong title/position/workplace), and an academic letter from a professor or advisor. If you always have new updated letters, you won’t have to fuss about this when asked for one.

Online Portfolio.  If you are applying to a position within the writing, editorial, advertising, public relations, or graphic design industries, you might be asked for examples of your work. Keep an online portfolio of your work to easily access relevant projects to send to employers.

5.Apply and Follow Up.

Push Out Applications.  Once you have all of your materials together and customized for each specific position, it’s time to send them out. Send them out as close to one another as possible to better track them.

Follow Up on Applications.  One week after sending out your materials, follow up to make sure the coordinator received them.

Apply For More. Every 10 days, I’d suggest applying for more opportunities if you still haven’t landed anything. You want to make sure you put enough applications out to make sure you land something. Remember, no one is your advocate -  only you!

6.Interview Prep

Print Materials.  Print out a handful of copies of your resume and cover letter for each meeting that you have.

Buy Thank You Notes. After the interview, you’re going to send a hand-written thank-you card, go ahead and purchase them before you have the interview so you can send immediately after.

Get Your Wardrobe Together.  For your interview, you should wear a business suit – a blazer and a pant or a skirt. You could also wear a dress as long as it’s not sleeveless or a skirt and top with a cardigan or blazer. Remember, the key is to look professional. You want the employer to say, “Wow, they are dressing to impress!”

Practice Questions. Your career center should have a list of practice interview questions for you. Go grab a copy of the list and make yourself practice as much as possible. You could also schedule a mock interview with the career center. This way they can point out any areas of improvement. They will also schedule mock Skype interviews with you if needed.

Research, Again. It’s time to research again. Go to the company website every day leading up to the interview, see if anything has changed since your original research phase. Also, look up your company on Google News to see if anything has popped up about it.

Create a List of Questions.  It’s crucial that you ask questions at the end of the interview. Create a list of 5 questions to ask at the end of the interview. This will ensure you have at least 2-3 questions to ask.

7.Follow Up Post Interview.

Email.  Send a thank-you email right after the internship thanking the company for taking the time to sit down with you.

Send Your Thank You Card. Put your thank-you card in the mail. This only needs to be 4-6 sentences thanking the employer for their time, referencing something you spoke about, and reiterating your interest in the position.

Repeat Until You Land Something.

Repeat this cycle of researching, revising your materials, prepping for interviews, and following up until you land the perfect summer internship. Good luck!