Entering your college years is like stepping into a vortex of fun, fatigue and the constant search for that perfect internship.
College, being your first real taste of independence will, for most people, be fun. And, for most people, the delicate balance of academics and procrastination will turn you into a zombie. But even truer a constant than these two collegiate states of existence is the fact that you’ll feel like Frodo Baggins on an epic mission to track down that dream of an internship before anybody else snatches it.
The perfect student internship could be the gateway to your dream job after graduation.
So, how do you get a hold of a great summer internship?
While there’s no such thing as a “bad” internship, one that has a little something to do with your interests and career goals might be the place to start. After that, you’ll want to look up.
Networking may seem like an intimidating process, but it’s easier than you think. Talk to parents, professors, friends of the family, anybody with a few good years on you whose role in the working world you admire. Let them know what type of internship you’re interested in, and ask them if they have any colleagues or friends they can put you in contact with. Remember, it’s called “Networking” because it doesn’t just stop at one contact–if that were the case it would be called “Lining.” One new contact can lead to a, ahem, NETWORK, of other contacts you could and should reach out to.
- Treat all people with whom you come in contact with respect, courtesy and professionalism
- Don’t put off getting in touch with a contact if you can’t see the direct effect it might have for your internship search
When it comes to “reaching out,” you want to tread carefully. For example, sending a mass email to all of your contacts at once is poor form. Instead, keep the email personal and concise. If you are contacting a person you’ve never spoken to before, clarify in the subject line how you know them and what you might be looking for. For example: “Given your name by Al Bundy” or “Referred by: Peggy Bundy. Seeking Career Advice.”
People’s email get overloaded with spam and bad jokes, so make sure that your email stands out with brevity and clarity.
Within your email, introduce yourself with a brief bio and what you are looking to do (long-term). Avoid write out your entire resume at all costs. Think more along the lines of 1-2 sentences. Also, don’t email a person blindly. Do some research about their company to prove your genuine interest. Do not ask for a job. I repeat: Do not ask for a job. That part is understood and if the contact wants to help you, they will follow up with either an internship opportunity or another person to contact.
Sometimes, you won’t get a response at all. In that case, brush your shoulders off and move on.
- Ask for advice or any other questions you might have about the company, the internship, the contact’s experience
- Carefully edit your emails for spelling errors. Your computer’s spell-check is not infallible.
- Don’t assume the contact will help you
- Don’t demand the contact to help you
Always, always, always thank the people who help you. No matter how far along they get you–whether to an interview or just answering a basic question about their line of work–say “thank you.” Sending an email 24-48 hours after your meeting, interview or informational session will keep you in their minds and let them know that you’re a courteous person. Nobody wants to work with a jerk. So if you’re a jerk, a congenial thank you email can be a helpful disguise.
Thank you “DO’s”:
- Remind the contact who you are
- Make a connection to how your skills would help their company
Thank you “DON’Ts”:
- Don’t send a “Thanks for nothin’” email
- Don’t send a sob story about why you need this internship
The best piece of advice we can give you is to go at your internship search with an open mind. You never know what you might find to fill your summer.