A College Girl’s Guide to Finding an Internship

If only all offices were this chic…
If you’re anything like me, you’ve already started planning out your fall (and maybe even spring) semester. Aside from picking classes, scheduling in exercise and figuring out my living situation, the top of my to-do list reads: GET AN INTERNSHIP. It’s easier said than done, but having already started the search, I’ve put together a list to help you find that perfect experience to add to your resume.
Start early (and by early I mean NOW). I’ve always been a planner so this comes naturally to me, but if you haven’t started looking for something, now’s the best time. It might be hard to believe, but I actually missed two deadlines for internships I was interested in. I also sent an email to a company and was asked to inquiry again in August but they were thrilled I was interested. Once you start looking, sending emails, and noting deadlines, you’ll have a much better idea of your own timeline and when you need to have things submitted by.
Make a list of your interests. Depending on your major, previous experience, and year in college, you might not need to narrow down your focus. Even if you think you’re already locked into a field or industry, making a list of what you like and what you want out of an internship will help. Even though I’m an art history major, my list included things like environmentalism, working with people, and design. Your area of study should influence your choices, but don’t let it define your options. Internships are the best way to test-drive an industry so don’t pigeon-hole yourself into just one thing.
Use resources to your advantage. Most universities have a career center so log-on to their website and see what you can find. Many have an entire section devoted to internships, including tips for applying and websites to help you in the hunt. You can also reach out to professors who may have connections or ideas about what might be available. It also never hurts to see what connections family or friends might have.
Think globally, work locally. Yes, it would be awesome to be an intern at Merrill Lynch, Teen Vogue, or on Capitol Hill. Unfortunately, unless you live in New York, LA, or DC, those may not be feasible during the school year (if you do, more power to you!). Instead, look to see if there’s a local bank, city magazine, or state official’s office you can work at instead. While it’s awesome to have a hot-shot company on your resume, you might end up getting more hands-on experience with a smaller one.
It’s all about the skills. There’s certainly a sense of excitement about being an “intern,” but racking up applicable skills is more important than a long list of names. Don’t rule out jobs, clubs, or organizations as an important part of your work history. Interested in accounting? Maybe the student-run coffee shop needs some help. Want to be an event planner? Check out the university’s office and see what’s available. Dying to break into the sports reporting industry? Email your favorite campus team and see if they need a manager or liaison with the school paper.
At the end of the day, you should be excited about what you’ve lined up for the fall semester. Starting your game plan now will make the process a lot less stressful and give you plenty of time to make sure your application is stellar to ensure you land the gig.
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