Snag Your Dream Internship
Hire Me: Snag Your Dream Internship
Ah, the dreaded life of an intern: making copies, fetching coffee … and getting nothing in return? Scratch that! There are tons of cool opportunities out there for college kids, and if you’re looking to land something for spring or summer, the time to start looking is now. But do you really need an internship?
According to Job Outlook 2010, a recent survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, more than 75 percent of employers say they prefer employee candidates who’ve interned. So, yeah, it’s a HUGE score for your future resume.
Here’s our step-by-step guide to nabbing an on-the-job spot at the bottom of the feeding pool. (Hey, you’ve gotta start somewhere.)
1. Track Down Some Resources
Start with your school’s career office.
Molly Wright, a career counselor at the University of Virginia’s University Career Services, says there’s a lot to take advantage of while still an undergrad: “We have tons of resources at our disposal -- not just counselors, but books, Web sites, scheduled interviews and career placement services.”
Personal connections are also a plus
When it comes to landing an internship talk to your parents about relatives and friends who might have jobs you’re interested in and ask other students if they know of any good opportunities.
2. Consider Your Options
What exactly do you want to do?
Take into account your major but also what you’re most interested in exploring. This is your shot at spreading your wings and seeing what’s out there. Often, companies aren’t too concerned with your concentration -- they’re looking for past experience and a well-rounded resume. So, yes, it’s possible to pull off a stint in photojournalism even while majoring in chemistry.
To be paid or not to be paid?
Some internships do pay a small stipend, but the fact is, most are unpaid. However, keep in mind the very valuable work experience you’ll gain. Many unpaid internships do offer college credit in exchange. And some provide room and board. This is something to consider if you’re applying for a position out of state or abroad.
Figure out a timeline.
How long of an internship can you commit to? Will you need to take a semester off? Are you willing to give up your summer? Some internships fall under very specific dates, so plan ahead and adjust your schedule accordingly.
3. Pull It Together
Compile a list of internships that interest you.
You’ll want to apply for several -- don’t assume you’ll get the first one that dazzles you, because competition can be fierce. “I suggest students apply for 10 internships per semester,” says Lauren Berger, founder of Intern Queen Inc. “Summer is the most popular internship season -- double up on applications.”
Stay on top of the application process.
You’ll have a lot to manage once the ball gets rolling: due dates, submitting materials and potential interviews. Almost every internship application will require an updated resume. (Your school’s career services office can help you with this and job interviewing skills.) Other requirements might include a cover letter, writing samples and letters of recommendation. Our best advice: Beat the deadline for submissions.
4. Be Sure to Follow up
Send a thank-you letter after every interview.
Get the interviewer’s business card so you’ll have appropriate contact info. You can email your letter or send it by snail mail within two business days of your meeting. Do not call or text!
Keep an open mind.
If you don’t score your first (or second or third) choice, whatever opportunity you do land will benefit you in the long run. “My summer internships were all great experiences,” says James Madison University senior Hilary Rupert, a communications major pursuing a career in public relations or customer service. “They’ve all prepared me well for what I’m getting myself in for in the future. You learn skills and meet people that just having a college education won’t allow you to do.”
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