Internships are key to scoring a full-time job after college – it’s a true statement, but nobody really tells you how to land one. I’ll be the first to say that this particular job hunt is a struggle – a lot of companies are looking for full-timers, or aren’t even looking to hire at all! Still, from my experience, I’ve picked up some tips on how to find a killer internship, and I’m here to share them with you.
Focus your internship search.
Before you even start to look for companies, make sure you have a firm grasp on what you want. Does it matter if you get paid? What kind of work are you looking to accomplish? Make a list of these things that make up your “dream internship” – they will be important in your job search!
A lot of people will tell you to take anything that comes your way, but I disagree. I think it’s important to focus your efforts on positions that you believe will positively impact your career. Sometimes that means picking something slightly out of your comfort zone, but that never means straying away from your goals!
For example, I took a job in Manufacturing engineering this summer even though I was looking for Research & Development, but I felt that it would still have a positive impact on my eventual career. If they offered me a position in Marketing, though, I would have declined – yeah, I’d have a job, but it wouldn’t be focused on what I want!
Look in the right places.
Now that you’ve made a list of everything that you want, it’s time to start looking! Googling “internships in insert field here” and going to the annual Career Fair will only take you so far, so here is a list of places that are great to look for your dream job!
1. Your school’s Career Services Department.
Okay, this might seem like a no-brainer, but you wouldn’t believe the number of people I’ve met that have no idea that this resource exists! The career services department’s job is literally to help you find a job, and it’s in your best interest to take advantage of that. My school sets up workshops and information sessions with companies in addition to providing mock interviews & resume reviews, which is a resource I would definitely recommend taking up. Set up a meeting with your career services department to see how they can help in your quest!
2. Profession-oriented clubs & organizations
A professional organization might not seem as fun as the Underwater Basket Weaving club, but these orgs do hold some serious value. A lot of times clubs like this (i.e. Society of Women Engineers, Alpha Kappa Psi) have a vast network of professionals to tap into, and that is a great way to land a job. One of my friends joined our school’s chapter of SWE and actually landed a job through one of the club’s connections! I’m telling you, these organizations are way more valuable than you can possibly imagine, especially in your internship search.
3. Professional Conferences
I attended the Society of Women Engineers’ Regional Conference this past January, and even though it was a smaller conference, there were so many companies there! These kinds of conferences are great because you know that the companies are seeking people just like you. That’s bound to take away some of the jitters that come with the internship search! Look for conferences within your area of interest that are stopping near you – you never know what you might find.
Even though LinkedIn is primarily used for developing connections, it can actually be a great source for that internship hunt! Once you update your preferences, the site will automatically look for job openings that match what you’re looking for. How awesome is that?
5. Personal Network
People often say “your network is your net worth”, and while I’m not sure I agree 100%, it can actually be pretty useful. The world is small – a lot of times one of your connections knows a person that works in the company you’d like to work for! I wouldn’t suggest asking all of your friends for their boss’ contact information (that’s a major faux pas in my book), but if you find out that a mutual connection has a link to a job you’d like to pursue, there’s nothing wrong with asking for an introduction.
Don’t give up!
It’s no secret that job hunts can be discouraging, but the most important thing is to never give up. Don’t get discouraged if you come up empty! There are tons of internships out there, and if you put in that hard work you’re more than likely to find one.
Make that list of jobs you’d like to pursue, beef up your application, and go for it!
Welcome to the first post in my Internship series! I’ll be posting regularly about how to find, score, and excel in the internship of your dreams – keep reading for more 🙂
What are your job search tips? Where have you had the best luck finding an internship opportunity?