Here are four steps you can take to improve your chances of getting hired for an internship.
By Melissa Farthing, Copy Editor
Internship: The dream and fear of many college students. It looks great on a resume. It’s a great experience builder. It may even be paid.
Internships aren’t easy to come by. Many of the best programs are highly competitive, and finding one is even tougher with COVID-19 in the mix. According to the National Survey of College Internships 2021 Report, just 21.5% of students participated in an internship last year.
Luckily, there are some steps that college students can take to make the internship hustle more palatable. Here is a list of tips and tricks I’ve acquired during my epic quest to obtain an internship.
- Look for internship listings on job boards.
The most obvious places to start looking for internships are job boards. Websites like LinkedIn, Glassdoor and Indeed post new opportunities every day for potential internship seekers. It’s helpful to input a couple of relevant search terms—for example, “marketing internship”—and then save the search for later use. Apply search filters to weed out irrelevant posts (for example, you don’t want an on-site internship in Montana if you live in Maine). Check back every few days to see what other listings have been added. Handshake and Ascend are two other career-building websites to which Huntington University students have free access, so why not take advantage of them?
- Cold-call (or email) companies.
Sometimes applying straight from the job boards doesn’t provide many bites. After all, you’re competing with dozens of other candidates for the same position. The next step would be to reach out to individual companies and inquire about internships. Start a spreadsheet of several different companies for which you’d like to work. Personally, I’ve found that 15 is a good “magic number,” but that amount may differ from person to person. Fill out that spreadsheet with information about each company, including where to contact them. Then, send out an email to each company asking for information regarding internships. Attach an updated, relevant resume to your email. Don’t worry if the company doesn’t have an established internship. According to Chegg Internships, about 70% of internships are not made public, so it’s important to contact companies directly. If you don’t receive a response, follow up with the company two weeks later, then move on to other opportunities.
- Network, network, network.
Networking is crucial in any industry, and it can be a practical way of finding an internship. Often, internship roles are filled because someone working at Company X knew a recent graduate from College Y looking for a beginner opportunity in Industry Z. Not to say that your skills and experience won’t get you anywhere. Still, it’s about “who you know” in many job fields. Professors and fellow students at your college and university can be a great place to kickstart your professional network. There are also job fairs, websites like LinkedIn and virtual networking parties. Wherever you decide to network, be polite and share what you are looking for, but don’t appear desperate. Keep your resume and business card on file if you need them. Be kind and professional!
- Polish your resume and cover letter.
Maybe you’ve taken all of the above steps, but you’re still not getting anywhere. Perhaps you need to take a closer look at your resume and cover letters. Fortunately, many free online articles give amazing advice on creating the best resume possible. Even better, Huntington University offers career services through the Friesen Center. Fill out an assistance request online, or speak with Darlene Bonner, Anita Watson or Martha Smith for more information. All of them have been incredibly kind and helpful throughout my internship search.
If you want to take your professional development one step further, consider attending the Emerging Professionals event on April 7 at 6:30 p.m. in Longaker Recital Hall. This free event is hosted by Huntington University Career Services and the Huntington Township Public library, and it will feature a panel discussion with recent HU graduates. Attendees can also get a professional headshot taken and choose one free clothing item from the “career closet.”
Hopefully, these tips will help make finding an internship slightly less scary! Don’t be afraid to ask for help and never give up. It can be frustrating to get rejected and not find what you’re looking for right away. Nonetheless, if you work hard and have a plan, chances are there will be a position out there just for you!