Throughout my years in college, I took part in three internships which all played an integral role in me landing the job I have now. They will continue to hold a valuable spot on my resume until I gain enough full-time experience to be able to remove them. So, the internship search process should not be taken lightly!
Starting the internship search can be intimidating though. There are so many opportunities to choose from and this is often the first time you will have to put together a professional resume. I have done my fair share of internship searching so I am here to help you along the way! Here are my honest answers to frequently asked internship search questions.
Should I even do an internship?
Yes, yes, and… YES! A bachelor’s degree isn’t as much of a hot commodity as it was twenty years ago. Your job search upon graduation will place you in a pool of thousands of other candidates who have a degree, just like you. So, what will make you stand out? Internship experience! It is the closest thing to having a real job in your field before you graduate, so don’t underestimate its power!
What kind of internship should I do?
There are various kinds of internships to choose from and I say, go with whatever will jive best with your school schedule. If you’ll be taking 18 credits next semester with your head stuck in the books, then an off-campus internship with full-time hours may not be the best idea. In that case, go for a virtual or on-campus position.
Also, take travel into consideration if you plan on taking an off-campus position. Calculate how far you are willing to travel and how much of a transportation budget you can afford yourself. Find out if the internships you will be applying for offer to pay for travel expenses or provide a stipend. The last thing you want to do is accept an internship and then find out the commute will be brutal and expensive!
Speaking from personal experience, try to take at least one internship off-campus/”in the field” if you are able to. I know it sounds scary, but it will be great preparation for your post-graduation job!
When should I start the internship search and application process?
Technically, you could be searching and applying year-round. If you catch a company’s eye, they may save your information for when they are in need of an intern.
But, if you are specifically looking for a fall, spring, or summer internship, here are the prime times to apply:
I don’t know what I want to do after college yet. So, how can I decide on an internship?
Think about your dream job and take it from there! What kind of work can you imagine yourself doing after graduation? Internships are the perfect opportunity to try out different jobs without being fully committed.
How do I decide which companies to apply to? Should I even bother with bigger/well-known companies?
Internships are all about research! Look up companies in your field and create a list of at least ten with offices near you.
Should you bother with big companies? This is an age-old debate! I say yes and no. Here’s why:
Bigger companies have name recognition and look great on your resume. You may create solid industry connections and be exposed to some pretty awesome stuff (celebrities, red carpets, big corporate events, traveling, etc.). However, many big companies are known for treating their interns like *you know what* and see them as baristas rather than actual employees (no hate on baristas, you all are awesome).
My newfound tip when interviewing with these companies is to grill the heck out of them about the work that interns do. Ask to see examples of work interns have done and if they dodge you or have nothing to show, then that’s a major red flag.
Then, there are the small guys. These companies are famous for treating their interns like actual employees by giving them real work to do. You will often be working right alongside full-time employees and gain hands-on experience. The downside to interning with these companies is they may not have the budget to hire you after your internship ends and if they do, there may be little room to grow.
In the end, think about what will work for you right now. I am happy to say that I have interned with both big and small companies, which I would recommend you do as well. But from an experience perspective, I learned way more working with smaller businesses.
I have compiled a list of perspective companies. Now what?
Now, you search for as much information on their internship programs as you can! Look on company websites, LinkedIn, or Glassdoor. At this point, you may be able to cross some prospects off your list if you’re not getting a good vibe.
What if they don’t have a job posting or email to send applications to?
This is when you put on your detective hat! Who said you can’t apply to an internship just because there wasn’t a posting or direct email address?!
I actually prefer and recommend sending applications directly to someone in the department you are looking to work in (but don’t be that person sending your stuff to random people in the company either). This ensures that an actual person will be receiving your application and not a company mailbox that no one ever checks.
Only resort to using the job posting or generic contact form if you cannot find any other way to get in touch.
Where can I find the email addresses for people I need to contact?
LinkedIn is an easy way to find people your looking for and sometimes a good way to get in contact. If you cannot find their company email address through a Google search and some sleuthing around, then try finding someone else’s that works in the company. Most companies use the same email format so if you can find one person’s email and you have the name of the person you need to contact, then you’ve got it!
For example, let’s say I need to contact Anne Brown but I can only find Mike Smith’s email. If his address is MSmith@company.com then it’s safe to assume Anne’s email is ABrown@company.com. Sneaky, but usually spot on 😉
If you have any other questions about your internship search process, I’m always here for help! You can e-mail me at email@example.com 🙂
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Have you done any internships yet? How was your internship search process? Let me know in the comments!
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