You’ve heard that you should do an internship. Your friends are doing internships, but you’re not quite sure how to get started. The process of finding an internship can vary vastly from person to person, but fortunately, there are some steps that can make the process easier. Generally, if you plan to complete an internship, you should start searching about six months in advance. However, some larger internship programs, particularly with government agencies, may have earlier deadlines. Some internships involve a formal application and interview process. Others are much more informal, with students reaching out to an agencies to collaborate and “create” internships.
If you need assistance with any of the following steps, please book an appointment. Choose the Internship Search option.
Step 1: Determine why you want to do an internship and what you want to get out of the experience.
For some students, an internship provides an opportunity to investigate a particular field or type of job. For others, it provides an opportunity to gain experience in a specific area. Realize that most internships are not paid. Instead, they provide an opportunity to gain new skills and build relationships with people in particular fields.
Step 2: Narrow your search so that it is not too overwhelming.
This might mean that you explore internships in a specific field such as business but consider internships in similar areas, such as marketing, sales, or human resources. On the other hand, you might target a specific geographic location but consider several career areas. If you know you want an internship in a specific field, you may need to be flexible in terms of location and vice versa.
Step 3: Develop a resume.
While not all internships require resumes, most will ask you to submit one, along with a cover letter, to be considered for the position. The Center for Career and Professional Development offers information and workshops on resume writing, as well as individual appointments with a counselor who will review your resume.
Step 4: Research opportunities.
A wide variety of internship listings are available online and elsewhere. Our list of internship resources provides links to sites that allow you to search for internships and publish your resume for viewing by employers.
Step 5: Expand your possibilities.
Employers are often willing to create an internship since they are usually unpaid and short-term. Think about companies that you would like to intern with and check their websites – or contact them directly – for opportunities. In large organizations, the initial contact point is usually the human resources office. Not all internships are well advertised, and they are often filled through personal contacts. Friends, family members, and alumni can be valuable connections and sources of information. Alumni listed in the information interview database and externship directory may be able to provide information on opportunities that are available where they work.
Step 6: Apply.
Most internships have a specific application process. This may involve filling out an application, submitting a cover letter and resume, or scheduling an interview. Whatever the process stated in the listing, follow it exactly! If you set up an interview, go! If you must cancel, do it well in advance and make sure to speak to someone rather than leaving a voicemail or sending an email that could end up getting lost.