06 Apr How to Get a Summer Internship
It might seem like it’s barely spring, but summer is closer than you think. For most college students, this means getting ready for final exams and looking forward to a break from classes. But it also means thinking about opportunities to learn about different careers over the break. Depending on your interest, your experience, and your financial expectations, there are a lot of ways to get a summer internship.
Here are some ideas to help you get a summer internship:
Think about what your interested in as a career. This might seem obvious, but it can be tempting to go for whatever pays the most, is in a cool location, or will land you near a girlfriend or boyfriend. Instead, think of this as the beginning of a resume that you are building – because it’s exactly that. Future employers not only look at internships as actual practical experience, but as proof that you have researched and experienced the market you express interest in.
1. If there is no internship, make one. Certainly you should start with your career services office, LinkedIn, and company websites to find out about advertised opportunities. But if there is a market or company that really interests you, think about how to get an internship there, even if they don’t have a specific program. Check with the alumni program or find them on LinkedIn and see if there are graduates from your school that work there and ask if there are opportunities to shadow someone. Or reach out to human resources with an email explaining that you like the company (give specific reasons) and would love an opportunity to learn more over the summer.
3. Money isn’t everything. No, really, it isn’t. If you must make money over the summer to help pay for college expenses, then that should be your priority. But if you can live at home or find other ways to keep summertime costs down, don’t turn down an interesting chance to learn because it’s unpaid.
[bctt tweet=”Showing interest and commitment in an unpaid internship could give you a leg up if there’s a paid opportunity down the road.”]
And if you need to make money, ask if you can do a shorter internship – maybe just a few weeks instead of three months – so that you can get some experience without sacrificing a paying position.
4. Find the opportunity in what is out there. If you see a summer internship that isn’t exactly what you hoped for, look for ways to build skills within the job that’s offered. Maybe you’re really interested in business but you get an opportunity at a law firm. Find out if you can have a coffee with one of the managing partners, or someone in the business development team. They can still help you learn about financial analysis, business management and other overlapping interests, in a different context.
5. Stand out. But, in a good way. Make sure that your cover letter or email is distinctive and memorable. You need to say more than “your company seems really interesting” or “I’m smart and hard worker”. Be specific. Mention an article that you read about the company or a course that you took that studied their products or services. And of course, be sure to use perfect grammar, get the person’s name and title correct and be succinct – you don’t need to write a novel, just a note.
You can get a summer internship, if you’re persistent and positive.
You aren’t the only one looking, so it can seem daunting and even discouraging to try to approach large (or small) companies for an internship. But if you think carefully about what you want and market yourself well, then you have a good chance of landing somewhere between Memorial Day and Labor Day.