If you’re a college student, you’ve probably held a variety of part-time or other on- or off-campus jobs during the academic year. But how are you spending your summers? You may be wondering what steps to take or how someone can land a summer internship in the corporate world. Well, whip out your pen and take some notes. Here are seven tips on how to prepare for and land the summer internship of your dreams.
Identify or confirm your interests.
I’ve found that having a clear idea of your interests will put you one step closer to landing the internship of your dreams and aid future job seeking. I spent my last two summers as a camp counselor, and while I enjoyed the teamwork and memorable experiences, I longed for a job that aligned more with my career interests.
In my first week at Kuder, I also took the career assessments in Kuder Journey® (which measure interests, skills, and work values). The results confirmed my interest in design and working with people, and pointed me toward the marketing field. So whether you explore your interests by doing some soul-searching, by tapping into resources at your college's career center, or utilizing online tools like Journey, figuring out your true career interests is an essential step in the internship research and application process.
Attend a career fair.
Most colleges host career fairs at least once a year. Look out for these events and mark your calendar. Follow tips from career fair prep experts prior to a career fair event so you’re well-prepared to meet prospective employers. Also look out for career fairs from other institutions, particularly larger ones. Large universities usually attract a bigger pool of employers and can increase your chances of connecting with the right companies.
There are all sorts of people in your network that have industry-specific knowledge. These could include your professors and alumni. Former interns and business professionals in your field of choice are also great resources for your research and ultimate selection of an internship. You’ll also find that posting questions you may have on social media like LinkedIn and Facebook would increase your reach and help you get the right information in a timely manner.
It’s not unusual for employees to start seeking summer interns in the fall semester, typically after a fall career fair day. While deadlines vary, most internship applications tend to be due around this time.
For example, Kuder's summer internship program deadlines tend to be earlier on as well. According to Julie Johnson, Kuder’s human resources manager, internships are usually posted by August, and the company starts to actively recruit during the fall.
With deadlines so close to the start of the school year, there’s no reason why you can’t start your research sooner. Planning in advance and doing your research on websites like Indeed.com and Glassdoor are also important steps to take in securing an internship.
Another thing that I’ve found essential is keeping track of your progress as you go about researching, applying for, and completing interviews for internships. During my research, I created a spreadsheet with information on all things related to my internship search. Such a spreadsheet might contain information like salary, general pros and cons, application materials and their deadlines, key contacts, qualifications, etc. Here’s the internship planning spreadsheet I created – feel free to modify it to suit your needs.
Internship Planning Spreadsheet
Print this free resource and keep it handy as you apply for internships.
Rock the interview.
From experience, doing adequate research about a company before-hand goes a long way to show your interest in the company. For example, when I interviewed at Kuder, I could tell that my interviewee was impressed by the fact that I had read the latest blog stories and company news. Additionally, be confident and do not be afraid to elaborate on your skills and experiences.
There’s also a chance you might meet and interview with the entire team you might work directly with in the company. If this is the case, maintaining the same energy levels and authenticity throughout the process is important. Also be sure to follow-up with your interviewer(s) via email and snail mail, thanking them for their time. This leaves a positive and long-lasting impression.
Becky Miller, a human resources generalist for Kuder, said, “what makes an applicant stand out is their level of professionalism as well as the follow-up – a thank you email or card in the mail after an interview for example. That to me, speaks volumes that the intern is invested and really wants the position.”
Have a back-up plan.
You may not always get the internship you want. This reality is the reason you need a back-up plan when applying for a summer internship. During your research, look out for other opportunities like volunteering or temping at companies you find appealing. You never know how an opportunity could present itself. Also consider applying to several companies to increase your chances of landing at least one internship. Let company reviews, your current skillset, and your career goals be your guide.
With these tips in your tool kit, you’re one step closer to planning for and getting the summer internship of your dreams. Put your best foot forward, hope for the best, and get prepared to dazzle. Good luck!
- college and career readiness