With fall semester starting and students getting back into the swing of things, it is once again that time of year when recruiters, job fairs and workshops will start popping up all over campus. I know it seems like it's WAY too early to start thinking about what you're going to be doing next summer, but within the next few months companies will already be looking to fill their summer internship programs. Applying for internships can seem intimidating, but choosing to find an internship before my senior year is one of the best decisions I've made in my college career and I strongly recommend it to all college students.
If you're nervous about finding an internship for next summer you need not fear because I've compiled a list of tips that helped me to find an internship that I absolutely loved!
1. Attend a resume or interviewing workshop.
I know these seem like a pain to go to and they can be rather boring, but take it from someone who was required to attend quite a few and discovered that they were actually really helpful when it came time to look for an internship! They'll provide you with general information, examples and sometimes even feedback on your resume or interview skills. If you're not sure where to find one of these, check out your school's career center!
2. Edit your resume.
Make sure your resume is up to date and accurately reflects your skills and abilities. As a college student, your resume should be kept to one page, so make sure you're only including the most important points that are relevant to the job you're applying for. I also recommend having someone else look over your resume whether it's someone at the career center, a professor or a friend.
3. Start applying early.
I know school just started and it seems like next summer is ages away, but it's good to start looking for and applying to internships now. Many companies start recruitment for their internship programs in the early fall months and want to fill them as soon as possible. This also ensures that you won't be scrambling at the last minute and wind up not being able to find the right internship for you.
4. And keep applying.
I started applying for internships in September and didn't accept an offer until April. It may seem like a lot of work, but the more internships you apply to the better chance you'll have at finding the perfect one for you.
5. Go to your school's career fair.
For those of you who are introverts, I know the thought of this might be terrifying. I was a little nervous before my first career fair, too, but remember that the recruiters want you to like them and their company just as much as you want them to like you. Although I didn't instantly receive a job offer, it was great practice talking to recruiters and it boosted my confidence. (And you never know, it could be the only thing standing between you and your dream job!)
6. Don't get discouraged easily.
Chances are, you're not going to get the first job you interview for. It took me months of applying and interviews with about seven companies to find my internship. Getting turned down for an internship doesn't mean you're not qualified or that you wouldn't succeed, it just means that you weren't the absolute best person for the position. Keep applying, keep interviewing and remember that the right job for you is out there.
7. Don't panic if your friends find internships earlier than you.
Going off of my previous point, some of your friends may find internships months earlier than you, and this isn't a reason to panic or something you should get discouraged about. While some programs prefer to fill their spots as early as possible, others may not even post the position until the winter or spring. This doesn't mean that all the "good" internships will be filled in the fall, so just take a deep breath and remember that there are still lots of positions out there.
8. Think about what's most important to you in a job.
When looking for an internship, it can be hard to know where to start, so think about what really matters to you versus what isn't so important. For me, it was the job description that mattered the most. As a marketing major, I wanted an internship that would allow me not only to get to work on real marketing projects, but also one that would allow me to see a variety of sides of marketing. However, for you it may be the location, pay, company culture or any number of other factors.
9. Keep an open mind.
Although it's important to know what you want in an internship, don't limit your choices because of it. Think about applying for positions in cities other than your hometown or in industries you may have never considered. My internship was at a company in the commercial real estate development and construction industry which was something that I knew absolutely nothing about, but it ended up being one of the best experiences of my life.
10. Remember that having an internship is a big accomplishment.
With all of the talk about finding an internship, it's easy to feel like you're behind if you haven't already had one or are having trouble finding one. The program I'm in at my school really pushes students to get internships to the point where I felt like I'd be a failure and never find a full-time job before graduation if I didn't have one. While having an internship will help to advance your career and I definitely recommend it, this is not true. An internship is an accomplishment, not a requirement, so there's no need to think you're behind in your career before you even start it if you can't find one.
Looking for an internship can be a lot of work, but it also offers a huge reward. Take a deep breath and remember that with a little dedication you can find the summer internship that's just right for you.