An internship is a short-term job experience meant for college students or those new to a field to help you gain professional, real-world, experience outside the classroom. An internship helps you learn, gain skills, make connections, and grow personally and professionally. Internships are available for just about any job in any industry. They typically happen in the summer, but they can take place over the course of a normal semester, too.
In this article, we breakdown all you need to know about how to find an internship during college in 5 simple steps.
Step 1: Research What Internships Are Available in Your Major
There is a strong likelihood someone in the world has graduated with your major before you and completed, and succeeded!, in an internship. The first step to finding an internship in college is figuring out what types of experiences, industries and organizations or companies are offering internships for your specific major.
Secondly, you need to find and network with people who have completed internships relevant to your major, and beyond, to better understand how they approached internship job searching. Once you have a better idea of job titles, industries and employers who actively hire for your major, you can then start preparing for your job search.
STEP 2: Use LinkedIn to Network With Past Interns
The best way to learn about an internship, how to get one, how to write your resume and how to nail interviews is to network with and interview past interns who have done exactly what you are seeking to do. A great way to find past interns is LinkedIn. All you need to do is go to a company’s LinkedIn business page, click People and start reviewing all the folks that are currently or have previously worked for the company. Once you find the interns (based on their job title) send them a friendly note asking to connect. Here’s an example:
I came across your profile through Grasscutters. I’m super excited to apply to their internship program and I was wondering if you might have 15-30 minutes next week for a quick phone chat to talk about how you got hired as an intern and how your experience was. Would that be ok? Thanks and super appreciate you! Hope to hear from you soon.
STEP 3: Prepare Informational Interview Questions
Now you have researched internships and companies, found past interns, and reached out to land interviews, you want to start preparing your Informational Interview questions! You can organize your questions based on A.I.R. Here’s how:
A = Advice: What advice can they give on jobs, industries, companies, or life?
I = Information: What information is helpful to you when considering jobs, industries, or companies?
R = Recommendations: What skills, certifications, associations, publications, or people do they recommend?
Lastly, be sure to ask about their experience interviewing, getting hired and what training and development was like for them so you can start preparing. Here are some common questions you may consider to help learn about your field and specific internship opportunities:
- What is a typical day like in your job?
- What do you like most / least about this career?
- Is your job typical of others in this field?
- Are there related fields I might want to look into?
- What makes a resume impressive in your field?
- Is my resume appropriate for this occupation?
- What are employers looking for in this career (skills, education, experience)?
- What’s the best way to find out about jobs in this field
- What would you recommend I do at this point to get into this field?
- What are the future trends for this field? Is there anyone else you would recommend I talk to in this field?
And here are some questions you may ask specifically to learn more about the company or organization:
- What’s the corporate culture like here?
- What is one thing you wish you knew prior to starting this job?
- Does your company allow for a flexible work schedule?
- Are there socials or team building activities at your company?
- What kind of diversity and inclusion initiatives does your company engage in?
Remember, networking can be exhausting. Be kind to yourself and just like working out, take rest days to recharge. Additionally, track and celebrate all your wins—big and small. All success is good, even if it is small. So, build that momentum!
STEP 4: Get Your Resume and LinkedIn Profile in Order
After researching, networking, and interviewing past interns, you’ve learned valuable insider tips and tricks to getting hired including how to write your resume and LinkedIn profile. Your next step is to revisit your resume to be sure your skills and abilities are updated to match what internship employers are expecting in good candidates and update your relevant coursework and academic projects and GPA with your most recent semester’s work.
When you write your resume, try to effectively express your professionalism, summarize your previous experience and accomplishments, and creatively articulate to an employer why they should hire you over other candidates. Before you start listing technical skills or awards, consider what makes YOU unique- how are YOU different from anyone else in the applicant pool.
Next, update your LinkedIn profile with the same information as your resume and activate your Open To Work badge along with updating your headline. Here are a few examples of how you can update your headline:
- Digital Marketing Major Seeking Summer 2023 Internship in Google Analytics
- Business Honors Student Seeking Digital Marketing Internships For Summer 2023
- Innovative and Inclusive Marketing Student Looking To Relocate To Boston or New York City for Summer 2023 Internship
STEP 5: Start Applying!
Once you have your resume and LinkedIn profile updated and accurately reflecting your skills, abilities, experience, and availability, it’s time to start applying to internships! Since you researched your field, used insights and data from informational interviews of past interns, you can now go into your job search with confidence your resume and LinkedIn profiles are strong enough to get you interviews. Now all that’s left is to prepare for your interviews and knock the employer’s socks off! You’ve got this!
Hi! My name is Nadia Ibrahim-Taney and I help people design happy and fulfilling careers through authentic career coaching. My expertise includes career exploration guidance, resume writing, interview prep and LinkedIn profile optimization. My pronouns are She/ Her/ Hers and as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I focus on how diverse identities impact and influence folks holistically and professionally. Please connect with me on LinkedIn through my website.