Getting an internship while in college is one of the most significant steps you can take towards kickstarting your career.
Future employers will look favorably on your internship as an indication of work experience and commitment, especially when the internship has been completed alongside your studies.
However, securing an internship in college is often easier said than done.
Not only do you have to juggle your application with your school commitments, but there are also several steps you’ll need to go through before you can land the internship of your dreams.
In today’s article, we’ll take you through the process of getting an internship in college, from choosing which opportunities to apply for to following up after your interview.
Table of Contents
Think About Qualifications
The importance of securing an internship is often communicated to college students so forcefully that they feel they should be applying for each and every internship opportunity they come across.
However, this can be counterproductive because applying for internships that don’t tie in with your skills and qualifications isn’t likely to yield results, and you will have effectively wasted your time.
Instead, think about what qualifications you have earned through your educational career as well as any skills you’ve picked up during your work experience.
Consider the nature of the degree you’re currently pursuing as well as the kind of career you envisage yourself having. Your chosen internship should be compatible with both of these.
For instance, if you’re majoring in chemistry and plan to have a career in this field, an internship shadowing a lab technician is likely to be much more useful than one in accounting.
Once you’ve decided what kind of internship will be the most useful for you, it’s time to start searching.
There are many places you can look for internship opportunities. The most obvious places to start are job sites such as Glassdoor, where you’ll find thousands of job opportunities which you can filter by full-time, part-time, or internship.
Alternatively, you can always get recommendations from your college or from people in your educational or personal life.
Your college is a good place to start if you’re looking for subject-specific recommendations. We highly recommend checking out the institution’s career fair as the first port of call.
It’s also worth asking your friends and family to see whether they’ve heard of any opportunities.
Finally, if there’s a specific company you’d like to work for, you can always get in contact with them directly to ask if they would consider taking on an intern.
Prepare Your Resume
If you’re going to be applying for internships, the first thing you will need is a resume. This will outline for the employer the skills that you will bring to the table as well how qualified you are.
Make sure that your resume is concise and clear. It should detail your educational and professional accomplishments using specifics but without any unnecessary information.
While writing your resume, make sure to check the job description for your chosen internship and include as much information as possible that ties into what the employer is looking for.
For example, if the job posting states that they are looking for someone with great customer service skills, give professional examples that demonstrate your proficiency in this area.
Make the examples as quantifiable as you can using numbers and figures, if possible.
Write A Cover Letter
Many employers will expect you to write a cover letter to accompany your resume.
A cover letter is an opportunity for you to go into more detail about why you would be perfect for the role in a way that wouldn’t necessarily work in a resume.
Research the hiring company and explain why you are passionate about working for them and what you will bring to the table.
Try to make your cover letter as unique as possible to help the person reading it to get a sense of who you are.
Create A Portfolio
This step might not be necessary for all internships, but if you’re planning to enter a field that involves writing articles, creating designs, or even building websites, you may need to create a portfolio for future internship employers to check out.
Make sure to update your portfolio regularly and include pieces that are relevant to what your potential employer is looking for.
Perfect Your Interview Technique
You’ll want to make sure that you’re as prepared as possible for the interview stage when you send out your application.
Thoroughly research the company ahead of time and come up with some questions you might ask the interviewer.
When you’re in the interview room, try to stay calm and clear-headed. Appear confident and professional.
Answer questions as specifically as possible, but if you find yourself needing a few more moments to answer, remember that you can always ask for a little more time.
This comes across better than stumbling over your answer.
After the interview, it’s tempting to sit back and relax while you wait for the decision, but there are still a few things you should be doing.
First, write a thank you letter to anyone who interviewed you. Within 24 hours, send a letter to the interviewer(s) thanking them for their time and expressing how much you appreciated and enjoyed the experience.
Also, let them know that they can reach out to you for any additional information.
If the date when they told you to expect a decision pass, it’s acceptable to send a follow-up email checking in with them.
Hopefully, at the end of this process, you’ll receive an offer!
If you’re worried about landing an internship during college, don’t be! If you follow our simple guide, you’ll soon be on your way to taking the next step on your chosen career path.
Remember to spend time organizing your resume, cover letter, and portfolio before the interview, and familiarize yourself with the company through research. Think up some interview questions to ask in advance.
After the interview, send out the relevant thank you letters or emails and wait until the specified decision date. If this passes, send a follow-up email.
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