Getting an internship is a critical part of your college education. The skills and personal insights you learn while interning can help you choose the kind of company you want to work for later. And the network of professionals you meet can serve as a sounding board and resource for everything from full-time job opportunities to resume advice, introductions to new connections, and more.
As a driven, motivated student, you don’t want just any internship. You’re ready to find your dream internship. But how?
Tip 1: Start looking early
Don’t wait until your junior or senior year to start your search, Jeremy Fisher of Creighton University’s John P. Fahey Career Center told U.S. News and World Report. Winning an internship during your freshman or sophomore years will give your resume a nice boost, putting you in a better position to win your dream internship later. And if you don’t get an internship, at least you’ll know how the process works and have your resume and cover letters ready to tweak for the next opportunity.
Also, look for summer intern program opportunities during the prior fall. SAS Institute in Cary, NC, a data analytics firm, begins interviewing college students for its prized internship program in October. Google posted ads for summer interns on LinkedIn in October. Wait until spring, and you could find all the good programs are already full.
Tip 2: Be bold (and prepared)
Boldness can pay off – big.
Lauren Berger, who founded and runs InternQueen, got her first internship after Googling “PR internships in Tallahassee, Fla.”, she told Forbes. She found an agency with a nationwide reach had an office in her city but couldn’t identify on their website who ran their program. Undeterred, she called the main number and asked for the intern coordinator. The next day, after sending over her resume that evening, Lauren had an interview. And later, she landed her first internship.
Speaking of resumes, update yours with your most recent skills and leadership experiences, including any scholarships you’ve won, along with a cover letter and an updated LinkedIn profile. If you’re struggling to create your resume or aren’t sure what to highlight because you lack experience, visit your college’s career center or schedule a 15-minute meeting with our team here. Utilize these available resources so you can tailor your resume, cover letter, and profile to match your dream internship’s job description.
Tip 3: Before you interview, do your homework
You wouldn’t bake a chocolate cake without making sure you have a good recipe and all the necessary ingredients. Why go to an interview unprepared?
Spend time on the company’s website to learn as much as you can about their business. Explore their competitors’ websites, too. Read the LinkedIn profiles of the people you’ll interview with to understand their backgrounds. You can also look at the profile pages of others who have interned there in the past (tip: use the search bar).
Use this information to come up with a list of great questions. Take notes and ask follow-ups. When sharing details about your leadership experiences, highlight relevant problems you faced and how you solved them, including how you collaborated successfully with other team members.
Tip 4: Use your network
Speaking of LinkedIn, now’s a great time to tap into your existing network. Perhaps you developed a fantastic relationship with your boss at your last internship and won a scholarship based on your performance. Or, maybe one of your professors knows someone at the company you love. Whatever the case, find people who can sing your praises and speak confidently about your ability to perform at a high level outside the classroom.
Tip 5: Follow up promptly (with a great thank-you note)
Once a company reaches out about your application or has a meeting with you, follow up promptly – within 24 hours is ideal. Send in any requested information quickly. After your interview, send a well thought out email. Use the opportunity to recall essential points from your interview. Reiterate how much you want the opportunity and how you are the perfect fit for both the company culture and specific position. If appropriate, remind them of any shared connections or references who can speak to your ability. With preparation and strategy, you can build a robust professional network that will serve you – and hopefully your colleagues – for years to come.
Lisa Bigelow writes for Bold and is an award-winning content creator, personal finance expert, and mom of three fantastic almost-adults. In addition to TheInternX.com, Lisa has contributed to The Tokenist, OnEntrepreneur, College Money Tips, Finovate, Finance Buzz, Life and Money by Citi, MagnifyMoney, Well + Good, Smarter With Gartner, and Popular Science. She lives with her family in Connecticut.