College internships are a tried-and-true way for students to gain real world experience in a professional setting. According to data from the NACE Center for Career Development and Talent Acquisition, students who pursue these positions during college are more likely to find employment after graduation. These experiences are about more than just applying the skills and techniques learned in your classes; internships also provide a glimpse into what certain industries and job titles resemble on a day-to-day basis. Let’s examine some of the best ways to not only land an internship, but also make the most out of your time there.
Getting a Head Start
Due to limited openings, student internships are often a hot commodity. If you’re interested in applying for an internship at a large or well-known company, you might find yourself turned away if you cut it too close to the deadline. In fact, many internships have early deadlines. Companies could begin recruiting for a spring internship as early as November of the previous year. Getting a head start is also a good idea because it allows you to create a balanced and long list of possible choices. That way, if one doesn’t work out, you still have several others to pursue.
Recruiting for Internships at Career Fairs and Networking Events
Though they might seem old-fashioned in the age of online applications and networking, career fairs have long since been the single most popular professional event for colleges. The National Association of Colleges and Employers found that 90 to 95 percent of universities host at least one career fair, with the average number being four per year. Additionally, an average of 208 companies attend each of these, meaning there countless opportunities for face-to-face conversations and networking. Bring a resume or CV, and be prepared to give an elevator pitch about yourself, one that highlights your strengths, interests, and career objectives.
Using Online Job Sites
Employers often use the same websites to post their internships as they would their salaried, full-time positions. These listings will indicate what requirements they have for an internship, like whether they’re offering only to this year’s graduating class, if there are prerequisites, and if it’s an in-person or remote job. When seeking online internship listings, consider trying:
It’s also time to become familiar with interviewing best practices. Make sure you have a well-organized and succinct resume, and always write a fresh and personalized cover letter. These small but important details show employers not how hard you work, but how much you desiree and respect the internship opportunity.
Succeeding In Your First Internship Position
An important goal of any employee should be to perform to the best of their abilities. Though you might not be a full-time team member, there are always excellent ways to stand out to your internship manager and prove that you would be a valuable addition. First, remember to introduce yourself and make an impression on everyone you meet. Even if you’re only taking notes on a call or assisting in a presentation, don’t be afraid to leave a good impression on others around the table.
Second, put in the work to understand the expectations and requirements of your position, and then seek to exceed them. Anyone can do the bare minimum at a job, but this is really your chance to sharpen your instincts and gain confidence at work. Requesting one-on-ones with managers or asking your seasoned office neighbor for specific advice is a surefire way to get a clear picture on where you excel and where you can improve.
Internships are more than just another requirement in college. This is about opportunity and practice, and knowing how to set goals and achieve them. Make sure you give it your all, whether you’re in the early process of research, the urgency of applying and interviewing, or making the best of it after landing the job. Be sure to communicate, ask questions whenever you don’t understand, and remain open to feedback to get better at your job before you even graduate.