3 Ways to Prepare for and Find Internships
Completing one or more internships while you’re in school can be a great way to gain work experience ahead of graduation. This work experience can also help give you an edge over other students when looking for your first full-time job. Finding an internship can be difficult though considering how many other students are vying for the same opportunities. Career fairs and networking are a good start, but there are some other ways to increase your odds of securing a great internship.
1) Keep Your Options Open
Have a goal in mind, but be open to a variety of internship opportunities. Especially if you’re unsure of what you want to do after college, getting experience in different fields can be very valuable. Internships can provide exposure to new opportunities and may ignite a career passion that you otherwise wouldn’t have found.
2) Begin Your Search Early
Internship opportunities can fill up fast, particularly within certain industries. Some companies start the recruitment process for interns in the fall or early winter. Starting your search a few months before summer will give you additional lead time to do your research and identify companies that you want to work for. It will also allow you the time to network and develop relationships with people who may be able to help you find an internship.
3) Reach out to Employers
Starting your internship search early gives you months to identify and contact potential employers. Don’t be shy to reach out to companies that you want to work for. Hiring managers or recruiters are generally happy to speak with an eager student about internship opportunities. When you call, be ready with your ‘elevator pitch’: your one-minute introduction about yourself, what you’re looking for, and what value you can bring. If the company doesn’t have any internship opportunities, you can instead request an information interview to find out more about them and continue the relationship. When any potential employer or professional contact provides you with their time or advice, be sure to follow-up with a thank you. A written note is the most effective and memorable to send.
Once you have secured your internship, there are some things you can do to make sure you impress your employer on your first day. Using the company website to understand their products and services is a given, but you can also read recent news articles to learn about trends and advancements in the field. LinkedIn can be a great source for information about the key people at the company. Take time to familiarize yourself with some of your new colleagues and managers so that you’re more prepared to establish professional relationships on your first day. With some thoughtful preparation, you can secure a great internship and be ready to impress on your first day.