Ask any college student who has gone after a highly competitive internship, and they’ll likely tell you one thing: getting chosen can be challenging.
There’s no denying the financial benefits that an internship can offer – it can provide invaluable experience that builds a strong professional foundation as you embark on your career journey. This can mean better opportunities after you graduate, a higher earning potential, and a network of connections that can be beneficial for years to come. According to a 2015 survey from the National Association of College and Employers (NACE), 60 percent of employers say they prefer work experience gained through an internship or co-op experience.
Many college students recognize the importance and benefits of an internship, so you might have some fierce competition. You can be the ideal candidate for the position, but when you’re up against dozens (potentially hundreds) of other college students, it can be a difficult feat.
Improving your chances at landing an internship often starts with finding (and applying) for as many as possible – so long as they align with your career goals and will satisfy required college credits. The more options you have, the better your chances, but you want to make sure you’re exploring all avenues and looking for internships in every possible way.
The following list of resources is a great place to start when figuring out your plan for how to find internships.
Your school should always be the first place to check for upcoming internships. Speak with your advisor who can help guide you in the right direction. Not only can he or she tell you about upcoming internships but you can also ensure that you’re only finding out about the internships that will satisfy certain required credits for your degree.
Your school might also have a career services department that will usually be up-to-date about upcoming internships. Visit these departments in person as they may have a job board posted, or you might want to speak to someone directly. You’ll also want to regularly check your college’s website for updated information.
Is there a specific company in your area that you’ve always wanted to work for? Or perhaps there are a few local businesses that align with exactly what you’re looking for?
Make a list of all the companies where you’d like to intern, and then visit each one’s individual website. Companies are likely to announce upcoming internships on their official websites before word gets around; this can happen even before your school knows. Look for a careers page on the company’s website and see if there’s a separate section for internships.
Bookmark these pages and check them routinely to find out when they’re updated with upcoming internships. This way, you’ll know as soon as they’re announced, and you can get started on the application process as quickly as possible.
Online Job Boards
There are tons of online job boards out there – Monster and CareerBuilder, among dozens of others. But these aren’t just websites for jobs, they’re also a great resource for college students looking for internships. Narrow down the search criteria to only include internships, or simply add the keyword “internship” to any job search phrase that matches what you’re looking for. This can help you learn about nearby businesses that you might not have otherwise known about – plus some amazing internships that could be perfect for you.
LinkedIn is the top social media platform for professionals, ranging from college students to experienced executives. It’s a great place for meeting new people in the industry you’re looking to intern in, and networking with the right connections can potentially give you the opportunity to find out about internships before they’re even officially announced. Additionally, many companies use LinkedIn exclusively for job listings, and this also includes internships.
LinkedIn isn’t the only social media platform that can help you find out about internships. The social networks that you already use to catch up with friends and family, such as Facebook and Twitter, are also good sources. Many businesses will use social media to announce company news, which often includes job openings and information about upcoming internships. This can also give you an opportunity to ask any questions you may have about the internship and the application process – and often receive a prompt answer.
Make sure you’re following the official company pages of local businesses where you’d like to intern and subscribe to their updates. This way, if they do announce any news about upcoming internships, you’ll be one of the first to know.
Family and Friends
Networking doesn’t just include connecting with professionals on and offline – it also means reaching out to your very own close network: friends and family. Once you know you want to take on an internship, tell everyone you know. If a friend, parent, or other family member hears about an upcoming internship at the company they work for, you can be kept in the loop. And if you do decide to apply, you’ll likely have someone at the company who will be willing to offer you a glowing recommendation. When it comes to jobs and internships, recommendations can go a long way, so don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth.
These are just some ways you can find out about available internships, but don’t be afraid to also think outside the box. For example, if you aren’t tied to any specific city, expand your search to nationwide – or even worldwide! Be sure to ask other students at your school for advice on how they’ve found internships in the past, and see if they can offer any tips for finding upcoming opportunities.