How to Get Paid Internships for the Summer

As an upper-level college student, you’ve probably come to a decision about your career direction. You’re gaining plenty of knowledge in school, but nothing compares to on-the-job experience. You’d like to apply for an internship, but you just can’t afford to work for free.

A paid internship can help you gain the experience you need, while also offering the funds required for necessities like food and rent. Paid internships aren’t impossible to find, but you do need to know where to look. Follow some of these tips to find an internship that offers the best of both worlds — experience and compensation.  

Start Early

Paid internships are highly coveted, so you’ll need to start your search early if you want any chance of securing a spot. If you want a summer internship, start looking the prior fall, around the same time you start school. Many employers like to narrow their searches around January, and some may have even earlier deadlines. You don’t want to miss out on the perfect internship because you waited too long.

Start Prepared

If you’re applying for an internship, especially in person, you want to look polished and prepared. Learn how to craft a resume for an internship, especially if you feel like you don’t have much to put on it at the moment. Write a professional cover letter, and secure several letters of recommendation before you start your search.

Know Where to Look

Not every company offers paid internships. They’re rarely available at non-profit companies or government organizations, although it never hurts to double check. You’ll have the best luck finding one of these internships at large companies and corporations, law firms, accounting and finance firms, and real-estate offices.

Network, Network, Network

It’s all about who you know. If you want to land a paid internship, be sure to alert all possible connections. Update your LinkedIn profile, and list any pertinent information, like education, previous job experience, and volunteer experience. You can also search for internships right on LinkedIn and see if you have any connections with potential jobs. In addition to your family and friends, check with your local alumni network. If an alum has a summer internship available, he or she may give preference to you as a student.

Take Your Search Online

LinkedIn is far from the only online platform to look for internships. Other top sites include,, and Depending on the site, you may be able to filter your search based on location, paid or unpaid, and specialty.

Apply Everywhere

If you’re really eager to find a paid internship, there’s no such thing as applying attoo many places. The wider you cast your net, the more likely you are to find success. Network with as many people as you can, and apply online to as many positions as possible. If you live or attend school in a more rural area, then consider making a move for the summer to a city where you’re likely to find far more positions available.

Look into Alternate Methods of Payment

If you discover the perfect internship opportunity, but it’s not paid, you might still be in luck. Some colleges and universities have scholarship money available for students who want to experience working in their field. These types of scholarships are usually available if you’re looking in a very specific area, like public health, education, or scientific research.   

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