The school year has just begun, but it’s never too early to think about internships for the spring semester or even summer. Having relevant experience on your resume, including internships, is important for the post-graduation job search, but snagging one can be competitive. Here’s how to leverage the tools around you to boost your chances of getting one you love.
Do your research. It can be tempting to apply en masse for internships, but you’ll have more success with a focused approach. Take the time to research trends in your industry. Are there up-and-coming companies that you can go after instead of the usual suspects? Are there burgeoning fields within your industry that you want to explore? What types of skills are you hoping to gain in your internship?
Zeroing in on and being able to articulate what it is you’re looking for in an internship—and how your skills will add to the business—will be handy when it comes to applications and interviews and mean that you won’t waste time on companies that sound good on paper but won’t add to your skillset.
Create your target list. Once you have the type of places you’re looking for, it’s time to create your target list. Capture what the different application requirements are, any deadlines you need to be aware of, and what types of portfolio samples you might need.
Use your networks. Now that you have your target list, it’s time to hit the pavement and put your networks to work. Reach out to your university’s career services center, your faculty advisor, any trusted teachers, alumni organizations, Greek life networks, and LinkedIn. See if there are any connections you can leverage for an introduction or informational interview. They may also have ideas or access to unadvertised internships.
Build your portfolio. Few industries will want your transcript for an internship. Instead, they’ll want to see evidence of what you’ve done that will help in the position, what sets you apart from other applicants, and what your career goals are. Showcase this with an online portfolio. Use a .study web address to build your home on the internet and show potential employers what you’re all about.
You can include your resume, clips or samples of your work, and more information about yourself. You can also use it as a space to get creative—it’s your space to show off your personality and experience in whatever way you’d like. Don’t forget to include your .study web address in your email signature and applications!
Ask for recommendations. Whether or not an application specifically asks for a recommendation, you may want to include them to bolster your application. The best people to provide these are recent professors and previous work or internship managers. If you do need a recommendation for a specific internship, make sure you let your referee know what needs to be included in the letter. Otherwise, you can ask them to write you a general letter of recommendation. Make it easy for them by providing them with your resume, some of the projects or classwork you completed for them, and a few of your key strengths.