How to Find Internships for College Graduates
Posted by April 13, 2016in Life Transitionson
Post-college internships are a great way to introduce yourself to full-time work. With an internship, you have the opportunity to gain experience in different areas of your field, get real-world experience before heading on to graduate school, and maybe even land a full-time position at the company where you intern.
Finding Your Internship
First, evaluate your goals. Consider what type of internship you want, in which field you want to work, what you hope to gain from the experience, and whether you want a local, national, or international internship.
As you search, evaluate the postings and the companies you consider. Do they have an active internship program? Is the description specific about the projects you'll be working on and the experience you will gain? Do they offer compensation?
Where to Search
School: Your college or university's online job or internship board is a great place to start. Also, book time to meet with someone in your career services office. He or she may be able to direct you to companies currently looking for interns or to places to find out about internships.
Startups: Startups are always looking for interns and often offer the opportunity to get more experience than corporate internships. Angel List, Interns2Startups and BuiltIn are great places to start. You can also stop by a networking event at a local incubator.
International: An international internship can be incredibly valuable and set you on an exciting career path. Finding international internships can be challenging, so start with your school's international office. Idealist.org also includes international internships with nonprofits.
Applying for an Internship
Start by refining your resume. Bring it to a career counselor or have a friend, mentor, or family member review and edit it.
Keep it concise and use the writing technique of "show, don't tell" to illustrate your experience. Submit your resume as a PDF to avoid formatting issues.
When you apply, always — always— include a cover letter. Try to determine who you would report to and address the letter to that person.
Then, write a concise summary of your experience relevant to the internship, explain why you want the internship, and share what skills and experience you would bring to it. This is not a time for modesty.
When you schedule your interview, leave yourself more than the allotted time. Sometimes a successful interview that was supposed to last 30 minutes can last well over an hour.
Before your interview, write up questions you expect the company to ask and either work with a career coach at your school or a trusted friend or mentor to practice answering the questions. Research the company in depth so you come to the interview prepared and have insightful questions for the company, as well.
Make sure you dress professionally. Even if it is a casual environment, it is better to appear overdressed than under-dressed.
After the interview, follow up that day with a thank you email. Sending a handwritten note, as well, can place you ahead of your peers.
Your First Day
Your first day may be a bit overwhelming. You'll be exposed to a lot of new information and ideas. Remember that it is OK to ask questions and take notes.
As you progress in your internship, consider that the more you take on (within reason), the better the experience you will get. If a new project comes up that you find interesting, ask to help out with it.
Also, remember to channel your problem solving skills. Managers will be impressed with someone who conducts their own research, who thinks critically, and who can identify solutions.
Remember that an internship is not full-time employment, so you will not have access to benefits like a retirement plan or health insurance.
To ensure you have health coverage, you may want to consider a Short Term Medical plan as an affordable option until you have access to a major medical plan.