Landing an Internship during CollegePosted Thursday, August 9, 2012, at 7:10 PM
Finding an internship during college is one of the best methods of gaining valuable work experience before graduation. Although an internship may not be required for graduation in some programs, students in all majors should take advantage of an opportunity for an internship.
The road to landing an internship should begin early in the student's academic career. Before searching for an internship, students should seriously consider the types of experience they would be interested in and what would fit their long-term goals. Students often have specific goals in mind for their internship, but they should be flexible. The most rewarding opportunities may come from an internship that indirectly relates to their major or career goals.
Students should consider their finances before pursing an internship. Most internships are unpaid or offer a small stipend. Furthermore, some students must enroll in an internship class to receive credit, and will need money to cover the cost of tuition. For some students it may not be feasible to participate in an unpaid internship. Larger companies and organizations are more likely to offer paid summer internships, but may require the student to relocate for the summer.
Once students have a general idea of the types of internships they would be interested in, they should begin their search. Ideally, the student should begin searching at least six months before the semester in which they will begin their internship. The timing of finding an internship can be difficult. Waiting too long to begin the search often means that other students have secured any available openings. However, some organizations may not be able to agree to an internship too far in advance.
The academic department or career center has information on internships, and is a good resource for a diverse range of opportunities. Students should utilize the internet when searching for an internship. Sites such as collegestudentjob.org maintain job listings and resume advice/examples for college students that can be a resource for internships.
Summer internship programs usually require an application. Often the organization's website will have the application materials, information on requirements and deadlines. If important information is missing or cannot be acquired online, students should inquire by phone or email. Internships in the local area may not require an application. Once the student has inquired about a possible internship, they may be asked to submit a resume for review. The person in charge of internships will contact the student for an interview. Students should prepare for their interview the same way they would prepare for a job interview. The school's career center provides information on resume writing and interviews, which can be helpful during the process.
Students should always do research on the organization before an interview or submitting application materials. Although the opportunity may seem interesting and applicable to their career goals, students should understand aspects of the organization such as its mission, goals and achievements. An obvious lack of knowledge about an organization will reflect poorly on the student, and their interest in an internship will not be taken seriously.
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I am a master's level career counselor. I am internationally certified as a Career Management Practitioner (CMP) by the Institute for Career Certification International and has been recognized as a National Certified Counselor (NCC) through the National Board for Certified Counselors.
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