Finally the time has come for us to gain the title of “intern.” An experience that seems like we’ve been waiting for our whole lives. A chance to drink coffee on the daily, dress like adults, and change the world. But then something incredible happens – reality hits. We are suddenly faced with the daunting task of searching for an internship and even question whether or not we’re qualified. Well from one student to another, here are my top ten pieces of advice on how to land that perfect internship.
Go to career services… seriously.
No matter what year you are, I am sure that you’re tired of this sermon by now. But really, if you’re in the market, career services should be your first stop. The job market is highly competitive and if your resume can’t stand out (for good reasons) then you’ll never stand a chance. They can also help with cover letters and interviews as well.
Use this time to explore your career field.
I like to think of internships as huge shadowing experience. If there is a particular field that you’re interested in and would like to learn more about, then seek internships there. Many people will have a set idea of what they want to seek career wise, until they intern in that field and find that they didn’t enjoy it as much as they would hope.
Make your own internship.
Not a whole lot of listings for your career path? Make your own. More times than not, businesses and companies will be willing to take on free labor. All it takes is a few moments of boldness and reaching out to a potential organization that you would like to gain valuable experience from. In this case, instead of writing a cover letter to submit with your resume, you would write a letter of inquiry. Taking the initiative to express interest in someone’s organization will go a long way in impressing.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a stipend.
A lot of interns will miss out on a monetary stipend because they’re too afraid to ask. While this may be an awkward topic to bring up to an employer, its important to know that if you’re qualified to be hired on as an intern, then you’re also qualified to get paid. Try approaching the subject like so, “Are there any additional benefits that would be available to me?”
Don’t get discouraged.
When applying to any job, it’s easy to become discouraged, especially if you never hear anything back. You do all of this research and write a good cover letter, getting your hopes up for working for a great company, only to be let down by no response. I get it. Chin up buttercup! If you didn’t get the call, then it just wasn’t meant to be. Who knows? Maybe that organization was full of Nazi’s and this is your saving grace.
Do your research.
One of the largest mistakes that any applicant can make is not doing their research. And its not enough to skim over the company website 30 minutes before the interview. Know their partners and their history. Know their mission and if they have a product, use it. Interviewers will know if you haven’t done your research and they won’t be impressed.
Your GPA is not a ball and chain.
When everything in the world of academia is dependent upon your GPA, it’s hard not to begin to define yourself by it. The truth is that employers care more about your work and volunteer experience than they do about your grades. Some of the most successful people in the world did poorly in school.
Don’t forget your values.
If your internship is required for you to graduate like mine is, it’s easy to sacrifice an arm and a leg for an opportunity that we otherwise wouldn’t have. It’s important to remember our values and why we want to do an internship in the first place. While it would be great to go overseas and serve in an under-developed country, is this really realistic? It may be a tough decision but you’ll thank yourself later if it goes against your morals.