Sorry for the odd and probably frustrating title to this post, but that about sums up the feeling of beginning the quest to find an internship! You know you need an internship, everyone says so. And they truly are important. But how do you go about figuring out what kind of internship would be best for you, finding one, and convincing them to hire you?
If you’ve looked into internships at all, you have discovered that the answers to these questions are not straightforward. While many European countries have established apprenticeship programs that connect universities directly to employers through government programs, this is not the case in the United States. In this country there are many ways to get internships, and they are often not immediately clear. Some people find them through friends and family, others through professors or career centers. Some people get very lucky, while others struggle for months to find an appropriate position.
Here are our immediate recommendations if you need an internship and don’t know where to start.
- Go directly to your college’s career center. Do not pass GO. Look through all the materials they have on available internships and how to get one. (Often these are out on shelves in a common area.) Make an appointment with a counselor and keep it! Tell them you want an internship, and keep making appointments and working with them until you have clarified what kind of internship you want and have found one.
- Craft a resume and cover letter template (you will need to modify both for each separate application). Have multiple people edit these documents heavily – they must be perfect.
- Network with your professors – they may have ideas, or your department may have a process for setting you up with an internships. This is critical if you want to get credit for your internship.
- Network like crazy – ask your parents, your parents’ friends, and friends’ parents – anyone you know who has a job that is interesting to you.
- Finally, if you can’t find an internship – think about how you can turn a more menial job into an internship. By this, we mean find extra things to do to make your job more challenging. Can take on a small research project that might help your manager out? Find a process to improve? Design some new marketing materials? Take on an extra research project on the side? Ask a lot of questions and find ways to be helpful and creative without being asked. Make sure you will be able to add specific accomplishments to your resume from every job you have.
- Call us! We can help you clarify your goals, improve your career materials such as resumes and cover letters and build your confidence for networking and interviewing.
- Lastly, have fun! This is a time in your life to have an adventure. Take on the work that is calling to you and dig in deep!