Internships are a common feature of almost any college student’s experience. Some students have to complete an internship as a requirement for their major. Others pursue internships to evaluate future career options. Luckily, completing an internship can help you increase your odds of finding the perfect career path. As an intern, you will gain valuable experiences and transferable skills, putting you ahead of other students in your field. Here are three steps to follow when applying for an internship in college.
1. Find an internship you’d like to apply for
Internships are common, but finding an internship experience that matches your major and interests can be difficult. You can begin searching for internships on career websites or job boards posted by your college career center. Sift through the types of internship opportunities on the job boards. If none of them seem fitting, reach out to the professors in your department or contact other professionals in your city. Your classmates can also be a valuable resource for finding opportunities and can add to your personal and professional network. Networking in college can help you find job opportunities at potential employers in your area that you may have overlooked. Getting your foot in the door as a student could lead you to long-term career development opportunities.
With many internship programs available, it may seem intimidating to evaluate which opportunity you would be a good fit for. Keep in mind that an internship also needs to be a good fit for you. It is possible to get an internship with no experience. However, you will want to match your skills, interests, and major with the position the best you can. You should also consider how much time you are able to dedicate to the internship. For example, you may seek out a summer internship that is full-time. But your schedule may only be able to handle a part-time position during the school year. Prioritizing paid internships or unpaid internships can also affect your options. Once you find an internship that matches your requirements, research the company through their website, social media, and employer review sites, like Glassdoor.
2. Polish your application materials and interview skills
Applying for an internship can be extremely competitive. That is why it’s important to spend some time polishing up your application materials, like your resume and cover letter. Confirming that your resume is error-free and up to date can allow you to put your best foot forward. Your resume should contain your contact information, campus involvement, related work experience, and any current skills that you’re passionate about. If it is applicable to the position, you might want to attach a portfolio of your best work, such as writing samples or graphic design projects.
Next, you may want to ask a few people in your network to be a reference for you. It is always better to ask for permission than to allow the company to cold-call your reference during the application process. Plus, attaching references or a well-written letter of recommendation when it isn’t required may help your application stand out. Tailoring your materials to fit the organization you are applying to can give you a better chance of landing the job.
After your resume, cover letter, and portfolio are polished, you will want to practice your interview skills. Conducting a mock interview can give a chance to practice your answers to common interview questions. During the mock interview, you will get a sense of how well you communicate with your words. You will also want to focus on your nonverbal communication. Be aware of your body language, and try to keep your elaborate gestures to a minimum. You should also try on your professional attire during the mock interview, kind of like a dress rehearsal.
3. Submit your internship application
An important step in the job search process is to know submission deadlines. Creating a document with all of the due dates can ensure you don’t forget. You will also want to make sure that you have completed all of the requirements and attachments. If your application is late or incomplete, the internship coordinator probably won’t consider your application, even if it is a perfect fit. Finally, always send a thank you letter or email to show your appreciation for the business’s time.
Once the application is turned in, make sure you are prepared for the next steps in the process. Checking your voicemail and monitoring your email daily is crucial to respond promptly and professionally to inquiries about your application. The company might be contacting you with additional questions. They could also be trying to see when the best time is to schedule an interview. If you don’t receive a response within a reasonable timeframe, it doesn’t hurt to follow up. There could be a delay that has nothing to do with you or your materials. Reach out to the phone number or email address listed for your hiring manager.
Getting an internship is not the only way a college student can achieve a full-time job after they graduate. If you find out that you didn’t land your first internship, don’t worry. You can always apply to another internship, get a summer job, take online courses, or perfect your hobbies to ensure that you’re not doomed to a summer of boredom. Even without an internship, you can continue to hone your skills and polish your materials so you are ready for the next time an opportunity comes around.
Now that you know the three-step process for college internships, you will be able to turn in your application for intern roles with plenty of time to spare. Completing an internship can help you decide if the job is something you can see yourself doing in the future. Internships can also help you identify if the position is something you would rather avoid. While an internship is a common requirement for certain majors, you make the most out of your opportunity by growing your professional network and learning as much as you can during your time as an intern. Even if the internship is different from what you expected, you can still use the knowledge and skills you learned to make yourself a better applicant for a future full-time job.
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