Internships typically offer many benefits – from giving you a sneak peek of the employment world before completing your degree or other college program, to inspiring your career choice. Whether it involves pay or is unpaid, an internship is such a major turning point in college. This explains why finding a good internship is of essence.
It’s important that you put some thought into your search. You’ll also need to make the most of the resources available to you; chiefly your college's Career Services Office.
More broadly, here are some of the main ways to find a Spring or Summer internship that will provide you with the kind of opportunities to benefit your career down the line.
Identify and attend relevant career fairs
Through your institution’s Career Services Office, you should be able to find career fairs that are planned for the winter break. Whether you are going to have your internship during spring or summer, career fairs offer a great opportunity to meet and engage with your potential employer(s).
Oftentimes, leading employers attend these events to canvass the market for talents that they can recruit. This is a perfect place to meet them one-on-one and give them reason to take you in as an intern.
It helps to go to these fairs well prepared. You might get only a brief chance to win an opportunity, so having your skills, experience, aspirations and such other selling points on hand in the form of a concise summary can go a long way.
Furthermore, don’t forget to ask for their contact details – be it an email address, cellphone number, or both. These contact details are what you’ll use to follow up with them after you have spoken at the career fair.
Explore your resources
When it comes to internships, there’s a lot of help both online and offline. Most people start at the Career Centre at their university. Every campus has a career services office. Check with them to see what recommendations they have in line with your area of study.
Career offices can be a good starting point since companies often contact them to announce internships opportunities. The drawback with career offices at universities is that they are limited and do not offer the abundance of information that you can find online.
Finding information online to guide your career can be daunting with information scattered in so many places. Popular websites include Internships.com, InternQueen.com, and CareerBuilder.com. A great alternative to spending hours on these various websites is to use a career development tool such as Pathfinder. This tool collects data from hundreds of sources to give you all the relevant information about companies, job application advice, and open internships, in one place.
Contact potential employers
You might have a list of potential employers in mind. If you do, you can head to their websites and find their details in the ‘contact us’ section. You are then able to get in touch with them and pitch yourself. Most companies provide both telephone numbers and contact email addresses on this section, in addition to a contact form.
Going on individual company websites can be a time-consuming and inefficient task. Many students these days choose to use a database such as Pathfinder which includes information of over 50 million companies worldwide within the dashboard. For those still unsure about what company they’d like to work for, simply search through the database and filter by location and industry to get some guidance.
Once you get in touch with an organisation in your career or geographic area of interest, you’ll be required to give a short presentation of your motivation for working with them. Be prepared to package your skills and strengths well enough to give you an edge.
Good communication and interpersonal skills will come in handy, so make sure you get some training on this area before you begin your search.
Explore your network
A lot of useful information regarding internships may already be existing within your circles; your faculty, family, professional acquaintances, friends, career advisors, counsellors, and more.
All you have to do is explore it. Ask around. Give these people a call, share with them the kind of internship you’re looking for and when you wish to start. Get in touch with alumni from your college and ask them for information. Look through your list of professional contacts; people whom you’ve met in conferences and other similar events. You might be lucky to get some useful leads within your network.
Sometimes you can even get hired by the very professionals who are already within your contacts if they’re hosting such programs. If not, there are often high chances that these people have connections that might help.
Start applying in winter
Some organisations have early internship application deadlines, so it’s best to start your search in fall/winter. Starting late could mean that you risk being cut out. Begin your search during your winter break to increase your chances of getting the best spring or summer internship.
There is quite a bit that goes into finding an internship. It takes a lot of research and preparation, so find ways to maximise your time as best possible. Once you get the right opportunity for yourself, the payoff is definitely worth the sweat.