By Dr. Dawn Chandler, Special to StudentAdvisor.com
Finding an internship can sometimes be a time-consuming and challenging process. Internships are a great way to gain real work experience, and develop a network of professional contacts.
Check out these tips for finding an internship:
1. Get to Know Your Professors. Be proactive and establish a friendly relationship with your professors. Take advantage of their office hours. Introduce yourself, mention a sentiment about the class and what you are looking for or interested in.
2. Use Your College’s Resources, like career services and online job boards. Be aware that there are plenty of other internship resources out there as well.
3. Utilize Your Social Network. Tap into your immediate social network, and take it from there. For instance: if your classmate’s mother works in the finance industry and you are interested in working in finance, ask if you could set up an informational interview with her. Make sure to ask about her day-to-day responsibilities, and what some of the challenges are. As always, be sure to follow-up and send a nice thank you note or email. Mention something like, “By the way, if an internship opens up, please let me know…” Talking to people you already know who are in the industry you may be interested in, is a great way for students to gain info about prospective career opportunities.
4. Work Hard to Find an Internship. Just like you work hard to maintain your grades and succeed in school, you will need to work hard to find an internship. Don’t rely on your school to provide possible internships – you have to put in additional effort as well.
5. Create a LinkedIn Profile. LinkedIn is the most professional social networking site, and can be used to find jobs, be recruited, or network with other professionals.
6. Be Proactive and Professional. Dress in appropriate business attire, and bring resumes and coverletters to interviews. Visit 8-10 target companies, and submit your resume to hiring managers and/or other relevant people there. Ask to speak to people directly – that way they can put a face to your resume.
7. Create a Professional Email. While nicknames or other aliases may have been cool in high school, recruiters may not take you seriously. Create a simple email address with your name in it. When corresponding via email, make sure to follow up within 24-48 hours – but the sooner, the better.
8. Search. Use your local chamber of commerce to search for available internships. Or, use a search engine like Google to do research on companies you would like to intern at.
9. Check Out College Resources and Placement Statistics. Contact the career services offices at your college, or the college you are interested in attending, and see what support they can offer you to find internships. They may have career fairs, company visits, etc. Also, ask to see placement figures for both internships and post graduation employment.
10. Control Your Facebook Privacy Settings. Make sure your Facebook profile is professional. Remove any inappropriate photos, videos, wall posts, comments, etc. Make sure they are also removed from your friends’ pages as well. Recruiters may try to find you, or your friends, on Facebook to see what you’re really like. It is always good to become a fan or “like” the target companies on Facebook to stay up to date with their status updates, posts, events, and news. It will also show that you have researched them and done your homework.
For more information on internships, check out StudentAdvisor’s Guide to Internships.
Dr. Dawn Chandler is the Professor of Management at the Orfalea College of Business at California Polytechnic State University.