Disclaimer- I am NOT an expert on internships, and obviously I would never claim to be. But, I have been interning since the summer after my freshman year, and since then I have learned a thing or two about how to find an internship.
The first thing to know is that you have to start early. I mean freshman year early. Get involved in things that are relevant to what you want to do; even if you do not stick to all those clubs you signed up for, it will help you to find your niche. Write for your school newspaper, join the TV or radio station, join a professional organization.
So now you are involved, you are working on your journalism skills, maybe you have a job on campus. Now what? Find where you want to work! Talk to your professors and see if they have any connections in your industry, do a little research, and find a position that fits you.
Are you looking for one during the summer? If so, are you going to need to relocate, stay at school, or live at home? How much will it cost? If you are looking for a semester position, what are the availability requirements? Some companies require 3 days a week, some don’t have any set requirements. Do you need to commute? Can you work remotely? What is the application deadline? Are there certain skills you need? Do you need to be an upperclassman? Does your school have requirements for interning? These are all things you need to look into before picking a few companies to apply to.
Now, build your resume! If you are totally lost, you can find a template online or, better yet, go to your school’s career center!! I had them look over my resume and cover letter for my first internship and they gave me great tips. It is literally their job to help you get hired and they are so underused. Most schools will have walk-in hours if you don’t want to make an appointment. Many schools also have some sort of alumni network or a job site with postings just for students. Do a little research to see what resources your university offers.
Then, start applying. But- before you get into it- make sure you take time for each application. Even if you are just sending a resume, make sure your email is thoughtful and shows that you want this position. If you are sending a cover letter as well, DO NOT use a template cover letter and send it to every single office. Personalize it to every company, use different examples for why you are great for this job, and don’t make it generic. Every piece of advice I’ve received is that people can tell when you write a generic cover letter that you sent to 10 other companies. I have a general outline that I use, but the overall letter is different every time.
Please, please, PLEASE just have someone look over your stuff. It helps, no matter what. I still have my parents look over cover letters, even just to make sure I didn’t misspell something or leave out a word in my stressed state of typing. It’s the same as writing an essay- you need to have a pair of fresh eyes take a look.
So now….you’ve polished your resume, you’ve sent out your applications, you are the perfect candidate….and now you play the waiting game. Interview skills deserve a whole different post, and even I haven’t mastered that.
My biggest piece of advice when looking for internships is to be patient and dedicated. It is a lot like searching for a job, and it will take time. I have waited months to even score an interview. But it is all worth it, because you will never learn all the skills that you need unless you intern.
What are some of your biggest tips for finding internships or jobs?