How to find and land an internship

A student searches for an internship with a dog in her lap.

A former intern helps you figure out how to hone your internship search to score that amazing opportunity.

So, you’re starting your internship search? My experience can help you out.

I’m a recent college graduate, and by the time I was a senior, I had four internships under my belt. So I can tell you from experience that landing an internship is less intimidating than it sounds — and the opportunity is more rewarding than you may realize. My internships let me test the waters for different career interests and narrow down what I wanted to do after graduation. Here are my tips to help your internship search so that you can land the internship you want and use it to your advantage.

It’s easier than you think to find internships — you just need to try some different avenues as part of your internship search:

  • Tap into your network: Talk to friends and family members about what interests you and see if they have recommendations or if there are internship opportunities where they work. If it will be your first time interning, it’s wise to start small — try to land a spot somewhere you have an established connection. Having limited experience makes it much harder to land big, competitive internships.
  • Ask your school: As you approach your junior and senior year, different college departments may provide a list of internship opportunities. I found out about one of my internships through an email that was sent to everyone with my major. Your academic advisor or department head might also be a good resource in your internship search.
  • Go right to the source: Don’t solely rely on online job boards. Instead of sorting through cluttered websites, find companies in your region that you want to work for and check the careers page on their websites. If there’s a company you’re interested in but no internships are advertised, consider reaching out to their human resources department or possibly asking for an informational interview to show your interest.My first internship worked out this way: The company was not looking for an intern, but the staff was excited to hear that a student was willing to help out and created an opportunity just for me. These may not always be paid positions, but they’re a great experience for your resume.
A personal website with a short biography, resume, examples of your work, and contact information not only looks professional, it also helps establish your personal brand and makes it easy for employers to get to know you beyond a name.

There can be thousands of applicants for a single internship, and you might not get every internship you apply for. I was turned down a few times. The best advice I have for your internship search is to prepare an “above-and-beyond” application.

For most fields, every applicant should have some form of a digital portfolio. I highly recommend creating a personal website with a short biography, resume, examples of your work, and contact information. Not only does this look professional, but it also helps establish your personal brand and makes it easy for employers to get to know you beyond a name. Show your individuality and highlight whatever sets you apart from other applicants.

It’s still important to send a cover letter and resume, and keep your LinkedIn current and your social media clean, too. Something small yet easy to forget is to have available space ready in your voicemail inbox. I once missed a call from a job I’d applied to and they weren’t able to leave a voicemail to set up an interview, which I only learned much later.

An internship can be a great opportunity to learn more about a field you’re interested in or to make valuable contacts. Hopefully, these tips can help you land the opportunity you’re looking for.


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