You’ve heard that you should do an internship, your friends are doing internships, but you don’t know quite how to get started. Fortunately, there are some steps that can make the process easier. Although the process may seem informal at times, always present yourself in a professional manner. If you set up an appointment for an interview, be on time. Once you get an internship, be on time and keep commitments that you make concerning projects you’re working on.
Step 1: Determine why you want to do an internship and what you want to get out of the experience.
For some students, an internship provides an opportunity to “check out” a particular field or type of job. For others, it provides an opportunity to gain experience in a specific area. Realize that most internships are not paid. Instead, they provide an opportunity to gain new skills and build relationships with people in the field.
Step 2: Narrow your search so that it is not too overwhelming.
This might mean that you explore internships in a specific field such as business, but consider internships in marketing, sales, or human resources. On the other hand, you might target a specific geographic location, but consider several career areas. If you have an internship in a specific career field in mind, you may need to be flexible in terms of location.
Step 3: Develop a resume.
While not all internships require resumes, most will require that you submit one along with a cover letter to be considered for the position. The Office of Academic and Career Services has information on resume writing on the web and in handout form. In addition, workshops are offered on this topic and individual appointments are available to review your resume with a counselor.
Step 4: Research opportunities.
There are a wide variety of internship listings available for use. These can be found via the web, in books, and through printed listings. The Office of Career Services has several print resources in our library. Our homepage provides links to a variety of sites where you can search for internships and publish your resume for viewing by employers.
Step 5: Expand your possibilities.
Employers are often willing to create an internship since the position is usually unpaid and short-term. Think about companies that you would like to intern for and contact them directly. The company web site often provides specific information about internship opportunities. In large organizations, the initial contact point is usually the human resources office. Friends, family members, and alumni are also sources of information. Alumni in the information interview database and externship directory may be able to provide information on opportunities where they work. Not all internships are well advertised and they are often filled through personal contacts.
Step 6: Apply
Most internships have a specific application process. This may involve filling out an application form, submitting a cover letter and resume, or occasionally just an interview. Whatever the process stated in the listing, follow it exactly! If you set up an interview, keep it unless you can cancel well in advance, and if you must cancel, make sure that you speak to someone rather than leaving a voicemail or sending an email so that you can be sure the message won’t get lost.