Friday, January 12, 2018

Everything You Need to Know About Applying for Internships

If you are reading this post, then you are most likely just beginning the internship process or considering a future position! Applying for internships can be both stressful and exciting, but as long as you have a plan of action and keep a few tips in mind, you can easily eleviate some of that uncertainty. 

As a college student who has undergone the internship process, I am sharing my knowledge with you and the things I wish I had known prior to applying! Keep in mind that I am definitely not an expert, but I can supply you with a realistic, personal internship application experience that will hopefully benefit you while going through the process. 

Consider Your Personal Goals
What are you in search of? If you are in search of hands-on experience outside of the classroom setting, than an internship is the perfect opportunity for you. Not only do internships teach you valuable skills that you can apply to the real world, but they provide networking opportunities and something new to improve your resume. 

Apply Early
My first tip when applying for internships or considering applying is to start thinking early. One of the pointers I wish I had taken more seriously was applying earlier. At the time, I was satisfied with my retail position, and while there is nothing wrong with persuing a summer retail position if it will help you financially, an internship in your field of study will make you stand out. It may seem early, but if you can start giving the internship some thought during your freshman or sophomore year of college, you will feel more prepared as you enter your upperclassman years. If you are considering applying for a summer position, now is the time to start looking since applications for internships often have deadlines as early as February or March. 

Take Advantage of Resources 
Most colleges and universities offer some form of assistance when applying to internships. The school I am studying in within my college offers an internship office with several knowledgable advisors that offer assistance. I frequented this office on numerous occasions throughout the semester as I applied for my spring internship and I found it to be very beneficial. Internship advisors offer experienced insight and can recommend positions you may not have been previously aware of. Besides an internship office, your personal advisors may be just as helpful. I also visit my advisor periodically when I have questions or concerns regarding positions I am applying for. If you are unsure of your major or your desired internship position, making an appointment with one of these advisors may be in your best interest in figuring out what type of position you want to pursue. 

Resume and Cover Letter
Your resume and cover letter are extremely important when applying to internships. Prior to applying to my first one, my resume was not in great standing compared to where it is now. I recommend making an appointment with an advisor or a professional who is skilled in formatting resumes and cover letters. Personally, the internship office at my school assisted me in reformatting mine and highlighting key aspects of my personal life and college career that I wouldn't have considered important otherwise! Since this is one of the first things you will want to get sorted out before applying anywhere, it is also something you should complete as soon as possible. The cover letter also provides you with a beneficial opportunity to express your interest in the position and your knowledge of the employer. Customizing your cover letter for each position you apply to is extremely necessary.

Improve Your Online Presence
Believe it or not, employers do look at your social media. I have witnessed past employers turn down candidates because they did not approve of the content they were posting on their social media. While it is nice to have a good time on the weekends, consider the types of photos you are taking and sharing on your social media platforms before you upload them. If any photos are incriminating or could be used against you, remove them as soon as possible. Although employers can potentially still locate deleted content, you are better safe than sorry and removing it as soon as possible. Creating a LinkedIn account is another valuable resource you can use to network. Some employers request you share your LinkedIn account with them, while others just like to put a name to a face and view your resume. 

Be Picky But Have a Backup Plan
When applying to internships, it is important to apply to those that interest you. Taking risks by applying to competititve roles is a part of the process!  However, obtaining an internship is tricky and there will be competition regardless. Do not be discouraged if you do not hear back from your top employer or receive a rejection, instead, have a backup plan in place for instances such as these. The magazine I had planned on interning with for the spring semester did not contact me back until the end of the semester, which prompted me to pursue a different internship and ended up being a better fit for me in the long run. 

Paid Vs. Unpaid
While not all internships are paid, this does not diminish the quality of the employer or the work you will be assigned. One of the best internship experiences I have experienced thus far was with a magazine that did not pay me. I obtained valuable writing experience, networking opportunities, and increased my portfolio, all of which are extremely valuable. Keep in mind that while you may have your heart set on a paid internship, it is okay to accept an unpaid one if you can manage it for a semester or two if it will increase your skills. 

Attend Job/Career Fairs
Most colleges and universities offer some form of job or career fair at the beginning of every semester. Representatives from different employers will attend these fairs and offer internships for designated semesters. This is a great way to network and learn about different positions that are available!

Seek Out Opportunities 
Besides for school resources, it doesn't hurt to conduct your own research on available internship positions. Some of my favorite websites are and that list available internships in my field of study depending on what I search. 

Be Passionate 
Despite how strong your resume appears, if you are not passionate about the position you are applying to, it will show. Your interest in the position and the time you spent researching the internship will be evident to the person reviewing your application, which is why you should use this opportunity to make a positive impression. 

Additional Information

For additional information, visit here and here . Both of these websites were very helpful to me and assisted me in writing this post! 

Thank you for reading, and good luck with your future internship search! 


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