Find an Internship
Internships can be a great way to get your foot in the door, gaining valuable work experience in a position that would not normally be open to someone with your skills. Finding one and getting it can be hard though. Read below for some advice on what to think about, look for, and how to go about finding that perfect opportunity.
Searching for Your Internship
- Write a resume. Before making an active search for an internship, you should have a resume already written. This will speed up the process of applying when you find something you like. You will also need to have a copy of your resume when doing certain types of searches, such as if you go to a job fair. Be sure that your resume is appropriately structured and looks professional.
- Consider building your work experience first. If you have no work experience, it may be worth it to consider building work experience before attempting to get an internship. Many internships are competitive and you will be unlikely to get one with no work history. Consider volunteering or an entry-level position.
- Get appropriate clothing. Like having a resume to present when searching for a position, you will also need to look professional during certain types of searches. Any time where you are meeting a potential employer, even just to inquire if an internship is available, you should be dressed appropriately for that position.
- Use your school’s resources. Many high schools, colleges, and universities will have career centers where you can search for an internship. Many times, these centers will be staffed with volunteers or employees who can help you in your search, give you advice, and help you write your resume and cover letters.
- Such resources are often also available to alumni.
- Go to job fairs. Job fairs are often held in cities. At these events, businesses looking to hire employees or interns will have booths where you can apply or get more information. Look for job fairs in your area and be ready to attend. You should have a strong idea of what you’re looking for, as well as proper dress and a resume.
- Job fairs will often be advertised in the local paper or on local television channels. You can also inquire at your city’s Chamber of Commerce or local convention center. They may know of upcoming events or the time of year when they can be expected.
- Use professional organizations or associations for your field. Many career fields will have professional organizations or associations or regionalized branches of those groups. These will often have online job postings or postings in their offices. Call the organization appropriate for your field and ask if they provide any information regarding internship openings.
- Network with friends, family and acquaintances. Networking is one of the best ways to find internships and other work opportunities. Poll your friends using social media, ask your parents or your parents friends, or talk with acquaintances and employers about openings they are aware of or people they may know who would be open to taking an intern.
- Use specialized websites. There are many websites which are designed to help people get internships. While you have to be careful, since like other job websites there are often people wanting to scam you, these websites can be invaluable tools for finding internships you might not have been aware of otherwise.
- Create your own internship. If the above methods aren’t working for you, don’t provide you with the kind of opportunities you want, or you are just more of a take-the-bull-by-the-horns kind of person, you can take the situation into your own hands and create the internship you want. Find a company that you would like to work for, ask for a meeting, and propose an internship. This is called cold-calling.
- Be aware, however, that if you are taking this approach, you will need to be very well prepared. Dress to the nines, have an excellent resume, have a plan dealing with how you can help them and what you both stand to gain from the relationship, and generally show them why they’d be crazy to turn you away.
Securing Your Internship
- Make contact. Once you've found a listing, flyer, or post for an open internship, you will need to make contact with the employer. Generally, postings will let you know the best method of communication to use. If unspecified, calling is best so long as you can sound professional and confident. Bring or mail them their requested materials (such as a cover letter and resume) and ask any initial questions you may have.
- The more they feel like they know you before the interview, the better your chances will be.
- Ace the interview. You will want to do whatever you can to impress the people you interview with. This can be done through the language that you use, the clothing that you wear, and how you approach questions.
- Make sure you look and sound professional and confident. Speak in definitive terms when you tell them about yourself: I can do this, I will do that. Don't use terms like probably and maybe.
- Research the company before interviewing. Find out their values and buzzwords. Use references to those values and buzzwords in your interview.
- Get acquainted with common interview questions and how to answer them. There are many standard questions that tend to get asked and how you answer them is important.
- Be persistent and proactive. Employers want to see that you are capable, determined, and invested in the position you want. This tells them that you will work hard and be a good employee. Be persistent in your communications and proactively seek the things you want.
- Accept the offer. If you get an offer, make sure to take a moment to think about it before accepting, unless you are certain this job is for you. If you accept, you have now made a commitment. If you have had other interviews, you may want to ask the employer for time to decide on the offer, so you can then contact the other employers you've interviewed with and see if they can make you an offer sooner. This way, you can choose between two offers rather than only going with the first one you get.
- Be careful though: being unsure about taking the position won’t look good to all employers!
Choosing between Offers
- Determine your field. You will want to be sure the internship is one which might be related to or help your future career goals. The point of an internship is to give you experience which you can use and make you more employable, so make it count.
- Determine your availability. Internships will have different time requirements. Some may be full time, some may be part time, and some may be only a few hours a month. You will need to decide what fits best with your schedule, especially if you will need to hold down a second job while working the internship.
- Determine your maximum commute. You will need to figure out the furthest you are willing to commute in relation to the time commitment of the internship. This will limit the areas in which you can look for an internship.
- Determine your financial needs. Some internships don’t pay, some pay only a very small amount, and some pay like any entry level position. You will need to determine what your budget is and if you can afford to have an unpaid internship. If you cannot, you may need to have another job on the side.
Sample Internship Cover Letter
Template:Video:Find an Internship
- Practice your interview with friends or counselors-- it will reduce your stress.
- If an employer asks you what you expect to earn, try to dodge the question with a statement such as "I'm sure you would offer fair compensation" or "I'd be happy to discuss that if we both decide to work together in the future." If pressed, be sure to do your research first.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help. Ask questions of friends, family, school counselors, career counselors, etc.
- Don't accept a job or internship if the employer is asking you to make an investment of your own money!
- In an interview, never say anything like "Just to let you know, I have several other offers", even if it is true. You may think that this helps to sell yourself by labeling yourself as high demand, but some employers will simply find this arrogant and kick you out the door.
- Ask the employer questions if you are unclear about any part of a job or internship offer.
- Don't falsify anything in your resume or interview... it will come back to haunt you later.
- If you are offered a job or internship without an interview, be wary. This might be because the job has such high turnover that they will hire anyone-- or because they expect so little from you that anyone will do for the job.
- Make sure you understand if the compensation includes any commission--or draw from future commission.
Sources and Citations
- Accept an Internship
- Get Career Counseling
- Become a Successful Intern