You stand the best chance of finding the perfect internship if you employ several different strategies. Networking, attending career fairs, looking for internship listings online, and identifying potential employers through classified ads, the local Chamber of Commerce, or by searching online are all ways to begin conducting your internship search. Finding an internship requires time and planning, but the results are definitely worth the effort. Here are some recommendations for those seeking a successful internship.
Start Your Search Early
Be aware that certain industries and internships have early deadlines and recruit and hire as early as November. Beginning your internship search during winter break affords you additional lead time. It can also give you the opportunity to make valuable connections with alumni or professionals within organizations of interest prior to returning to college. You can check with your college's Career Services Office for assistance and to find out which internships recruit early.
Decide what you want to do, but don't worry about being too specific. Gaining experience in a number of career fields is a good idea if you are unsure about the career you want to pursue after college. Think about what you enjoy and how that might parlay into a career. Do you enjoy watching shows on finance and investing? Home improvement? History? Are you interested in social activism and making a difference in the world? Internships can give you exposure to opportunities and a chance to sample new and exciting career fields.
Contacting alumni from your college and doing informational interviews can provide you with valuable information on career options and internships that you can pursue. Be sure to send a thank you note to them for sharing their time and expertise.
Check Online Resources
Contact your Career Services Office at your college to see if they have recommended internship resources that you might use or subscribe to.
Internships.com specializes in internships only and is a good place to begin your search. Also visit company websites and online and offline classified ads to identify employers who may be interested in hiring an intern.
Attend Career Fairs
Check with your Career Services Office at your college to identify career and/or internship fairs occurring during winter break. Top employers attend career fairs to recruit, screen, and hire talented interns and employees.
Be prepared to give a 60-second introduction that describes how you can be of value to an employer. Be sure to follow up with any recruiters you meet at a fair.
Telephone or visit employers in your geographic and/or career areas of interest and inquire about summer jobs/internships. Again, be prepared to give a 60-second introduction that sells skills and explains how you can be of value.
Focus on summer jobs available and, if interested, consider camp or resort opportunities to gain additional interpersonal and communication skills. Temp agencies also provide information on the employment needs of local employers. Be sure to follow up with employers whenever possible to arrange an in-person or telephone interview.
Become an Entrepreneur
Do you have special skills or a way of meeting a market need? I once spoke with a college student who made over $2,500 a week selling ice cream from a truck he rented for the summer. He was so pleasantly shocked by the success of his venture that he planned an extended trip throughout Europe.
Gain Experience as a New Graduate or Career Changer
New graduates and those experiencing career change can also try internships to gain perspective on new career fields and develop new knowledge and skills. Internships can be the bridge between an unsatisfying career and a potentially new and exciting venture. You can use internship and job search databases to identify organizations that meet your criteria.