The job market is a competitive, cutthroat place – and the evolving world offers little suggestion that this is likely to change. Standing out from the crowd is an essential element in boosting your chances of success, and a summer internship is a great way to help you achieve this.
In order to be successful, you need to ensure that you are punctual and organized – it is easy for deadlines to sneak up on you, and find yourself stuck with no options to apply to, or having missed out on what could have been your dream opportunity.
To help ensure that this doesn’t happen, we have put together everything you need to know about securing a lucrative summer internship – including those all-important final dates and deadlines that are crucial to helping you succeed!
Table of Contents
- Why Do Summer Internships Matter?
- What To Do (And Not Do!) When Applying For An Internship
- When Should I Apply For My Summer Internship?
- Final Thoughts
Why Do Summer Internships Matter?
Before we take a closer look at the details, you may be wondering why securing a summer internship is so important – especially if you are already making good grades at school.
In the simplest terms, a summer internship offers you a number of benefits and advantages over other candidates, including real-world experience, connections, and the chance to explore what the job really entails before you make a firm commitment in college.
Some of the main benefits to grabbing an internship include:
- A chance to enjoy a range of career paths – including some that you may not have previously considered.
- An opportunity to develop skills and knowledge that can help you in your career – for example, working as part of a team, or being involved in managing a project
- In some cases, you may be paid a small amount of money for completing your internship
- Experience in your chosen field
- A chance to network with professionals in your field -these can be extremely useful later on
- An opportunity to practice and build real-world skills that may not have been required of you in a standard high school environment.
What To Do (And Not Do!) When Applying For An Internship
In many industries, summer internship spots are scarce, and this can make it challenging to secure your place. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to boost your chances of success, and these include:
DO: Start Looking Early
For the best chance of success, you should start thinking about your summer internships from the start of your freshman year.
While this may seem too early, a number of students put off this discussion until well into their junior or senior year of college, and this typically aligns with a time when workloads increase, pressure mounts, and chances start to slim.
Get ahead of the game by putting yourself in the race as early as possible – this is also likely to increase the number of internship opportunities that you get to enjoy and participate in.
As an added bonus, taking on smaller internships early on will help to build your experience, and this can unlock the door to more exclusive and prestigious internships down the line.
DON’T: Wait Until The Last Minute
As we have mentioned, internships are competitive – and securing one of those coveted spots requires you to be working and acting early. Don’t wait until the last minute to send off your application; this can reduce your chances of success and cause you to miss out.
It is also a good idea to apply for as many opportunities as possible – this will increase your chances of a successful outcome. When doing this, however, it is important to ensure that each application is individual and tailored to the position – more on this later.
DO: Get To Know The Deadlines
Depending on the summer internship you opt for, there may be very strict deadlines – this tends to be the case for larger companies and corporations, which run a structured application process.
If this sounds like the type of company that you are applying to, then the chances are high that there will be strict internship deadlines, so make sure you are aware of these well in advance and are comfortable with the overall recruitment process.
Smaller organizations tend to offer a little more flexibility, but there will generally still be an “apply by” date.
DO: Have Your Resume Ready
Your resume is the first contact that your preferred company will have with you, and so it is worth taking the time to ensure that it is up to scratch.
Your resume should be polished, professional, and tailored to the internship that you are applying for, including any experience or coursework that is relevant to the position, and any points or special features that can help you stand out.
It is a good idea to get a second set of eyes if possible – this will help any grammar or spelling errors to be picked up more easily.
DON’T: Write A Generic Application
This is one of the biggest and most common mistakes made by candidates: they will draft a general resume, letter, or application and then fire this off to a number of different companies.
Organizations and hiring managers are experienced in this and will be able to spot a generic, cookie-cutter application from a mile away.
This implies that you are not really interested in this specific opportunity, and is a sure-fire way to get your application sent to the top of the “rejection” pile.
You also need to make sure that you are following the application instructions properly – different internships will have different requirements, and there is no “one size fits all” solution.
Some may ask you to attach work, while others may have a specific task to complete. Before you start the application process, it is a good idea to read through the entire form – this will give you a good overview.
Missing something out, or filling in the form incorrectly will cast serious doubts on your capability and credibility.
DO: Take The Chance To Network
Many campuses and colleges hold designated networking events for their students – these typically take place in the first semester of the year.
Key figures and connections will be invited, and it is important that you get to know as many as possible and stay in touch with those in your chosen career field – you never know when an opportunity may arise. Always be polite, professional, and enthusiastic in every encounter.
We live in a digital world, and it is important that you take some time to thoroughly review your social media presence, and remove or hide anything that may portray you in a negative light.
When your chosen business searches for you – and they will – you want the overall perception of you to be professional, responsible, and upstanding, and so remove any images that may be inappropriate or posts that do not portray you in the desired light.
Take a look at your profiles from the perspective of a hiring manager – would you want you to be on the team?
DO: Prepare For The Interview
So you have done the research, completed the application, and crossed your fingers – and it has all paid off, as you have been invited for an interview!
This is something that you need to be as prepared for as possible, in order to prove and impress the interviewers that you really are the strongest candidate for the role.
Consider your outfit – it should be professional and appropriate – and make sure that you have done your research on the company well in advance. Remember: failing to prepare is preparing to fail, so take your time in the research and planning.
When Should I Apply For My Summer Internship?
Now that we have taken a closer look at the benefits and importance of summer internships, the real question is when you need to submit your application.
The key is to make sure that your application is well ahead of the start of the season – usually the beginning of the spring semester, early on in January. This will help to ensure that you are ahead of the curve, and not in danger of missing any deadlines.
While applications should be submitted around this time, the actual process starts much earlier – the majority of key networking events occur in the first semester, around September or October.
You need to plan these into your schedule, to ensure that you are making the most of your opportunities and potential new contacts.
Following this, you will need to make sure that you are preparing and researching to maximize your chances of success and ensure that you are ready to go as soon as the applications open.
Summer internships are a great addition to your resume and can be the push that your career needs to help you meet the right people, gain useful skills and experience, and unlock doors in the future.
It is important that you are as organized as possible, and have a good understanding of the application process and deadlines, in order to maximize your opportunities and ensure that your summer internship is a success.