You’ve probably heard before that getting an internship during college is a fantastic way to strengthen your résumé, test out an industry or job (before you take the full plunge after college), and get a foot in the door at a great company. All true! An internship will expose you to a professional situation, allowing you to learn from people in the field and gain experience.
So, how do you get an internship? Because internships are usually highly sought-after, you’ll need to put your best foot forward. Here are seven tips to be prepared:
Visit the Career Center at Your School.
If you’re an FRCC student, your first stop should be the career center at your campus. The team there is worth getting to know and will help you learn about internships and how to search for one (through their connections and elsewhere). But they can do more than that! The career services team will help you develop career goals, focus on an education plan to meet those goals, prepare to join the workforce, and more.
Develop a Great Résumé.
FRCC career counselors can help you with this, as there’s a big difference between a decent résumé and one that will make you stand out. It’s understandable that you might not have much (or any) professional experience at this point, but you should still highlight any academic achievements, non-professional jobs (e.g. food service or on-campus), extracurricular activities, volunteer work, and school activities. You’ll also want to articulate your passion and work ethic.
Create a LinkedIn Profile.
The modern résumé is your LinkedIn profile, so make sure you create one and include an appropriate photo (no selfies, sunglasses, or party pictures, obviously). List your skills, share the work you’ve done in college that is shaping you, and start building your network.
Build a Network.
Speaking of networking, don’t limit your efforts to virtual contacts. Your professors are a great resource, as are aunts, uncles, family friends, and alumni who are now in the working world themselves. The more people you tell that you’re interested in an internship, the better.
Create a Customizable Cover Letter.
You might not need a cover letter for every internship in which you’re interested, but the process of writing one is valuable in and of itself. You’ll be able to articulate your strengths and goals, and having one ready to go is a good idea (in case your dream internship comes up).
Prepare for the Interview.
If you’re lucky enough to get an interview, don’t assume the hard part is over. You need to show up prepared and presentable, and come across professional and excited. Research the company and write down questions you have about what the company does and its mission. Be ready to answer general questions about your career goals and why you chose the major you did. Once again, it’s a good idea to lean on the people at your campus career center. They’ll help you get ready.
Brainstorm Other Ways to Find Internships.
Put Google to work and look online for companies in your area that offer internships (or search internship-focused websites). If you have your heart set on a specific company, look on their website for internship opportunities. And if you don’t see one, consider writing a cover letter and sending it along with your résumé to the company’s human resources department. There are lots of ways to land an internship, so keep trying—and don’t be afraid to get creative!
Securing an internship while you’re in college could do great things for your career trajectory and set you on the path to graduating with a job offer in hand. An internship won’t fall in your lap, though. Keep these tips handy and start putting in the work.