How to find the college internship of your dreams

Interviewing and networking

The internship hunt begins with networking and interviewing

You’ve been studying hard, working your way toward that golden diploma at the end of tunnel. Perhaps you already have a career path in sight. Or maybe not. Either way, it’s never too early to start thinking about putting the wheels in motion toward your first big job. But how do you do that? One of the best ways to get your foot in the door is to get an internship. Internships offer you the unique opportunity to not only get some work experience under your belt in your chosen field, they’re also a great way to get real references from those you’re working with; which, as you know, could help you land your first big job!

At the very least you will have the opportunity to scope out the work environment to see if it’s a right fit for you. Read on to find out how to find the college internship of your dreams.

Who internships benefit most

Internships can give a boost to almost any student in any major, but those in the liberal arts may benefit the most. That’s because English and Sociology majors, for example, don’t have a defined career path like other majors. For that reason, internships can be critical in developing your future career.

In “Interns Without (Major) Borders,” an August 8, 2012 post to Inside Higher Ed, Allie Grasgreen explains the importance of an internship for liberal arts majors. “Internships can hold special value for students whose future career paths are less defined,” Grasgreen writes. “Some of the areas in which Saint Rose students are finding internships might not have even occurred to them otherwise – managing social media for a local credit union, for instance. Through such an experience, students can reconcile the realities of a liberal arts education and the 21st-century workplace.”

Start with the career center

Your college career center will be the obvious place for you to start your research on finding an internship. There are usually hundreds if not thousands of listings from companies, both local and national, that you can start sorting through.

Online sources, of course, are also another route. Here are some sites that you can begin your search at:

Also, remember that most internships require getting college credit so you’ll want to check with your advisor about appropriate choices.

Don’t underestimate research

When preparing for an internship interview, one of the most important things you can do to prepare is to do your own research on the company that you’re applying for. The more you know, the more likely you will be to get noticed. Make mental notes of statistics, programs, or even improvements that you would like to address.

In a May 31, 2012 post to, “How To Get An Awesome Internship,” writer Frances Bridges explains her top tips for getting noticed during an interview.

  • Do your research
  • Use and know the product
  • See the big picture
  • Passion beats GPA

“Research includes not only the company and its products, but the business itself,” Bridges says. “Who are the major league companies and who are the minor league companies? What are they known for? How are they doing in the stock market? Have they been in the news lately? If yes, then why? What sort of people work there? What are their backgrounds? What are their products? What product is most popular? Which is the least popular? If people are writing about those products, what are they praising and what are they criticizing?”

The importance of networking

According to a 2012 U.S. News and World Report study, an average of 36.9 percent of students from the graduating class of 2011 held internships at some point in their undergraduate studies. Among the 10 National Universities for student internships, 62.3 percent of students held at least one internship. Not only are more and more students participating in internships, the field of internships, especially among high ranking companies, is getting more competitive. To keep your edge, it’s important to network – online and in person.

Summer internships can be even more difficult to pin down, so read these tips by Alice Garbarini Hurley in her March 25, 2010 post to Moneywatch, “Summer Internships: 6 Best Ways to Get One.” “Stop sending your resumes into cyberspace. It’s a black hole,” says author Ellen Gordon Reeves in an interview with Hurley. “To help zero in on the right contact at a place you want to work, figure out who you know who can give you a leg up. Given the competition, you need to make actual contact with a human being to have a fighting chance. Can’t think of anyone? Here’s where cyberspace can help out: Tweet and post on Facebook: ‘I’d love to intern at Sirius Radio. Does anyone know someone who has worked or interned there?'”

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