How to Find (& Get) Internships Related to Your Major

Are you on the homestretch of your college career or just starting your journey as a recent grad? Discovering what you want to do and navigating the job market can be tricky. An internship can be a helpful stepping stone before starting a full-time career. Want to give it a shot? Read on.

What are internships, anyway?

An internship is any qualifying apprenticeship program that allows undergraduate students and post-grads to “get their feet wet” in a chosen field. Interns have the opportunity to learn the basic skills and gain insight into the career path they want to follow.

An internship program can be paid or unpaid, full-time or part-time. Paid internships for college students are becoming more common, but an internship program is typically an unpaid job, exchanging work for valuable experience. College students often take summer internships between their junior and senior years or after graduation to fulfill credit requirements, boost their resume, jump-start a full-time job, or simply see if they’re on the right career path.

So, how do I get a good internship? Follow this step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Find internship opportunities.

Wondering how to find internships that interest you and relate to your major? Start here:

Set up a professional profile.

First things first: Create a comprehensive professional profile on the popular professional social media site, LinkedIn. Include work experience, education, and any relevant volunteer experience. This is a great way to start connecting with potential employers and searching for internship opportunities for almost any industry.

Start your search early.

Get ahead of the game by researching opportunities six months in advance. If you have a few companies in mind, go directly to their website. Not sure where to start? Check out job search and internship listing sites like Indeed, Chegg, ZipRecruiter, and WayUp, among others.

Use your network.

As the saying goes, “It’s all about who you know.” Current teachers, former teachers, a counselor or advisor, and family-friends are all potential members of your network. Compile a list and start getting in touch with them so they can help get you in touch with potential employers.

Step 2: Ace your applications.

Ready to apply? Follow these tips:

Complete your professional persona.

You’ll need to put your best professional foot forward when you start communicating with companies. Clean up your social media accounts (and make them private) and update your LinkedIn profile with an engaging bio, your academic achievements, relevant volunteer experience, as well as other work experience you may have. Make sure your voicemail message is professional, and if you don’t already have one, you’ll want to create an appropriate email address as well.

Polish your resume and cover letter.

Read, re-read, and re-re-read your resume and digital portfolio if you have one. Check for clarity, accuracy, typos, grammar, and spelling. Be sure everything is up-to-date and relevant to the position. It helps to have another set of eyes on it, too, so go over it with a parent, teacher, or advisor. Do the same with your cover letters. You’ll want to tailor your cover letter to each job.

Submit your applications.

Fill out the form, attach the correct documents, and double-check everything. Now take a deep breath and hit the “Send” button!

Send “cold” emails.

If you have a dream job or two in mind but don’t see a listing, don’t be afraid to reach out about possible opportunities. Emailing out of the blue (known as a cold call or email) may be a little intimidating, but give it a shot! Type up a clear, concise, and convincing message, and be sure to include your resume. Ask to set up a phone call, video chat, or even in-person meeting.

Step 3: Nail your interview.

You’ve secured the interview, now it’s time to really show them what you bring to the table. Check out these tips to help you put your best foot forward.

Be prepared.

Know your stuff. Take the time to read up on the company and internship description. Prepare questions to ask during or after the interview. What do you want out of this internship? What do you want to know about the job? What are you wondering about the company? Asking your own questions shows interest and dedication.

Practice, practice, practice.

Look up common interview questions to have an idea of what to expect. Have a friend, teacher, or family member set up a mock interview for each job you apply to so you get comfortable answering questions on the spot. Be aware of your body language and facial expressions, too.

Get all the details.

Is it an in-person or a video call interview? What is the dress code? (When in doubt, dress up, not down.) Get the date, time, location, parking details, everything — if you’re unsure of anything, don’t hesitate to ask.

Be on time.

Better yet, be a few minutes early. Do a trial run before the big day so you know how long it will take to get there, plus how much time to account for parking and navigating the building.

Be your best you.

Show them why YOU are the best person for the job. Remember, being genuine is just as important as an impressive resume. Impress them with the best version of yourself!

Follow up.

Write a note or email to your interviewer immediately after the interview thanking them for the opportunity and letting them know you look forward to hearing from them.

Step 4: Make the most of your internship.

Congratulations, you’ve got the internship! Now what?

Get organized.

Confirm your start date, end date, and schedule week to week. Keep a calendar or planner with important details, dates, and deadlines. Make sure you have all the supplies you need (some workplaces will provide the necessities). Understand your responsibilities and requirements for the internship so you can check all the boxes. You’ll need to dress for success too, so create a work-appropriate wardrobe.

Get settled.

If the internship is in another city or state, you’ll need to find a temporary home. Find out if the program or company offers housing options. If not, you’ll need to negotiate a short-term rental. When you find a place, take time to furnish it, stock it with housewares, decorate it, and make it a comfortable home. Explore your neighborhood and map the commute.

Get to work!

Be willing to learn, ask questions when you need to, and work hard. A successful internship can lead to job offers, a full-time job, and a successful career. You’ve got this!

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