Internships are a great way to ensure a healthy start to your professional career. Good internships can give you opportunities to test out different career paths, make connections and gain valuable experience. But the good internships won’t just land in your lap. You’ve got to put in extra effort from the start. Otherwise, you just might end up scanning copies and filing papers.
Every summer, Red Door Interactive hosts a summer internship program where we receive hundreds of applications for about 8-10 spots. So what’s the secret recipe to landing one of these positions? I surveyed our summer interns and here are some tips on when to start looking, how to search, how to prepare for the application process and what to expect.
When to start looking
If you aren’t currently involved in an internship program, you should always be on the look-out. If you’re searching for a summer internship, it’s best to start looking in December or January since that’s when many companies begin posting positions for their established programs. Other companies may wait to post until later in the spring so continue to look and apply, even into the summer months. If you’re interested in interning at a company without an intern program, consider reaching out to see if they’d be open to creating a position. It’s always a good idea to browse the various internships available to gain a better understanding of what’s out there.
How to search
Before you start you search, know your criteria. Where do you want to intern? What fields are you interested in? What do you want to learn? Are you willing to work unpaid? By having answers to these questions, it will help narrow your search and find the best opportunities for you. Here are some ways to search for internships:
Use online job websites such as Monster, Indeed and LinkedIn Careers. These sites let you look for internships based on certain criteria such as location and position.
Not all companies post their jobs on these sites, so seek out the companies you’re interested in and check out the career pages on their websites.
Follow companies on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Many businesses use these channels to promote job openings.
College career centers are a great way to find internships and many have advisors to help you with the process.
Use your network of friends, family, classmates and professors to find opportunities. LinkedIn is a great way to see who in your network is connected to companies that you would like to work with.
How to prepare for the application process
Start off by creating a flawless resume and cover letter. To standout, try doing something unique like creating a custom header, or even go as far as designing an infographic to display your qualifications. In addition, it’s also a good idea to provide letters of recommendation or request recommendations on LinkedIn to showcase your work ethic and experience. Once your resume, cover letter and recommendations are in order, start applying! Since you’ll most likely submit a lot of applications, make sure to tailor your resume and cover letter to each internship opportunity. Lastly, keep track of the internships you have applied for. If you know who will be reviewing the application, find them on LinkedIn and try to reach out to them directly. They will most likely notice the effort and remember that you went the extra mile.
What to expect
Don’t expect this to be a fast process. You won’t hear back from everyone right away, and for some, you might not even hear back at all. Don’t let this discourage you. Make sure that you follow up after two weeks, and if you still haven’t heard back, move on and keep applying. You’ll find one eventually. In the meantime, do anything you can to build your resume and improve your qualifications such as starting a blog, taking a programming class, or volunteering at non-profits.
An internship is an investment in your future, and if you land the right one, you won’t look back with regret. Just remember that this is your chance to learn and grow, so make sure to put 100 percent of your effort into the opportunity.