How to Find a Summer Internship

By Alyssa Laffitte on March 30, 2020

Why should you get a summer internship?

Before we get into discussing how to get a summer internship, let’s talk about why you should get a summer internship. There are many reasons to apply for a summer internship. For example, summer internships look great on a resume when you apply for jobs in the future. For some jobs, knowledge from the classroom isn’t enough. An internship will help you gain practical skills you need for the job. A potential employer will see the internship on your resume know that you have learned the skills you need to do the job well. This is a chance to show that you are adaptable, and a fast learner.

Also, an internship helps you expand your network and your professional abilities. You will interact with many new people and work on new projects. Your internship supervisor, or someone else you meet during your internship, could be the perfect person to write you letters of recommendation for your future job. Plus, you’ll likely make many new friends in your internship co-workers.

For these reasons, it’s important to get a summer internship. Now, let’s discuss HOW to get that internship.

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What to do before you start looking for summer internships?

Here are some ways to prepare as you start looking for summer internships.

Start looking ahead of time

The first piece of advice many people will give you about finding a summer internship is to start looking ahead of time. It is always better to secure your internship spot early rather than to scramble looking for a spot when summer is right around the corner. In general, I would recommend you start looking for internships as early as winter break. But for other fields, you may need to start looking even earlier than that. Figure out how early you need to start looking and get on it! You will be very relieved to have an internship spot secured.

Give yourself deadlines and a goal

To keep yourself accountable as you complete your internship applications, you should give yourself deadlines and set goals. For example, you can give yourself the goal of applying to five internships over the course of the winter break or apply to one internship every week for the rest of the school year. Setting goals and giving yourself deadlines will ensure you stay on top of your internship applications. You won’t be able to forget about your applications with this system! Also, try to keep track of your progress when meeting these deadlines. It would be a good idea to keep a tally of how many places you have applied to, just to make sure how far along you are in meeting your goals. For this reason, you should give yourself deadlines and a goal.

Apply to as many places as you can

While you are setting your goals, set them high! Set your goals to apply to more internships than you think you’ll need. The more you apply to, the better your chances of at least getting one! Later in this article, we’ll discuss how to find all those opportunities to apply to. In general, applying to more places is better.

Keep track of the places you have applied to

If you are going to apply to many internship opportunities, it’s a good idea to keep track of all those places. This will also help you track your progress on meeting your goal number of application submissions (remember, we discussed setting goals earlier in this article). To do this, you could create an Excel spreadsheet with the names of the companies you’ve applied to, the date you applied, the name of the company representative you spoke to (if you’ve spoken to someone), and if you’ve received a response from them. It’s important to keep track of any responses you’ve received, as it will let you know which places to follow up with. In other words, if you’re going to apply to many internships, you should keep track of the places you’ve applied to.

Prepare your resume ahead of time

Many places you apply to for an internship will ask for your resume. For that reason, you should have one ready to go. If you already have one, please double check it before you send it out. Make sure it is up to date and is an accurate representation of who you are. If you need to start from scratch, look up resume templates and ideas on Google. There, you will find some helpful inspiration to help you start constructing your resume. While creating your resume, don’t downplay your accomplishments. Show them why you are the best person for the job! Once you feel that your resume is strong, you can proceed in your search for internship opportunities.

Secure your letters of recommendations

Similarly, many places you apply to will ask for letters of recommendation. To prepare for this, you can ask some of your professors if they would be willing to write you a strong letter of recommendation for an internship opportunity. Be sure that this is a person who knows you well and who can speak well of you. Employers take letters of recommendation very seriously, so you should carefully choose who you ask to write you one. You could also ask a previous internship supervisor to write you a letter of recommendation. If you’re a freshman, you could even get away with asking one of your high school teachers for a letter, but you can’t do that as soon as you hit your sophomore year. Once you have a couple of people who can write you strong letters, you are good to start applying to internships.

Clean up your social media

Something else you should do as you apply for internships is clean up your social media. Nowadays, it’s easy for an employer to do a quick Google search of your name and to find out a lot about you. They can easily find your social media accounts, meaning they can find those embarrassing posts from when you were in middle school. Something as simple as a poorly worded tweet from when you were 13 could prevent you from getting that internship. To prevent this, go through all your social media accounts and delete any posts you don’t want your future employer to see. For this reason, it’s a good idea to clean up your social media accounts before you start applying to internships.

Where can you find summer internship opportunities?

As you begin the internship search process, it can be overwhelming trying to find all these opportunities. Where do you even begin to look? In this next section, we’ll discuss where to start looking for internship opportunities.

Ask professors or older students

Your professors and older students are very helpful resources, especially when it comes to finding internships. Older students have likely looked for internships before, so they will be able to tell you where they found their internships. They could also have inside knowledge into which places are best to work at. Additionally, professors probably know people in their fields who are looking for interns. If they don’t, they can direct you to someone who will know where to look for internships. Take advantage of the resources you have in your professors and older students from your school. They can help a lot more than you might think.

Reach out to people in your network

As I suggested, it’s important to use your network to help you find a summer internship. Someone “in your network” could be former or current supervisors, former or current teachers, or someone you met at a professional conference. Like your professors, people in your network will likely know someone is looking for an intern. It’s also possible that they themselves might be looking for an intern! Aside from reaching out to your professors and you should reach out to other people in your network since they can also help you find a summer internship opportunity.

Visit your school’s career center

Your school’s career is another highly underrated resource you have available to you. The career center is not limited to helping you find jobs, it can also help you find internship opportunities. Not only does it help you find an internship opportunity, but it can also increase your chance of actually getting the internship by helping with your resume. They likely offer resume or CV revision, along with revisions for personal statements. It’s always good to get an opinion from them or from your school’s writing center to increase your chance of getting the internship. Visiting your school’s career internship is a great way to help you land that summer internship.

Use an online internship finder

Of course, the best, most useful resource of the modern-day can also be helpful for finding a summer internship. To find an internship, you can use the same websites you would use to find a job. For example, websites like Indeed, Internships, and HandShake can match you with internships you might be interested in. You could also simply do a Google search for internships in your field and in a specific city. You never know what you could find with a simple Google search. It just might be the way you find your next internship! This is why you should use the Internet to help you find a summer internship.

Attend career fairs

Another great way to find a summer internship opportunity is to attend a career fair. Although you might not be looking for a real job just yet, a career fair is still the perfect place to find an internship. Attending a career fair will expose you to the careers that are available in your field. It will help you see who is hiring and what kind of employee they would like. Most importantly, it will allow you to meet the right people. Even if the recruiter you meet at a career fair is not able to offer you an internship, you could email them in the future when it’s time to look for a real job.

Cold email or call companies

It can be intimidating to cold email or call companies, but sometimes, that’s the way to go. You never know if that’s the way you end up getting your dream internship. However, before you do, you should do your research. You’ll want to show them why you are a good fit for their company specifically. Let them know why you are attracted to their company. If you’re looking at a university website, try to pinpoint a few faculty members you would like to work with and drop their names when you email or call. Keep your communications concise, but also be sure that you finish off with a clear request. Do you want to meet up with someone at the company to further discuss an internship opportunity? Do you want to speak to a specific person? (They won’t be able to help you if they don’t know what you want, so please clearly state what you want from them.) Cold calling or emailing is another great way you could land a summer internship.

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Send out more applications than you think you’ll need

Finally, it’s a good idea to send out more applications than you think you’ll need to send. The more applications you send in, the greater your chance of actually landing an internship. It will take time, but you will be thankful you spent all that time and effort into sending in applications. Again, send out as many internship applications as you can.

Internships can definitely give you an advantage when applying for jobs in the future. They show that you have the skills needed for the job, and it will give you some valuable connections in your field. You can land an internship through your school (like professors, older students, or the career center), through a website, or even through cold emailing or calling a company. Good luck with your internship search!

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