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Before the Career, There was the Internship

Are you or someone you know suffering through the stress of finding the perfect internship? As if applying to college wasn’t difficult enough, finding an internship to put the bow on the college experience can be a nightmare. College students (and high school students in some cases) can feel the weight of the world on their shoulders during this time. As they look for the ideal position that will help pave the yellow brick road to an emerald future, they start to question, “is this the future I want?”

Let’s establish that the first internship doesn’t lock someone to a career path with a ball and chain. The idea of an internship is to get all that book-smart and show how it can be converted into street-smart. Ace every test about how an engine works, get a job with a mechanic, then realize the smell of a car shop gives you migraines. How could this be avoided? By gaining the proper experience before diving in.

Much like finding a job, there are a lot of resources online, in your community, and on campus to point you in the right direction.

Online

Platforms

There’s a slew of job posting websites out there, but what about ones geared directly towards internships? Internships.com is exclusively for intern seekers and intern hosts. This simple to use site has connections to internships across the U.S. Put in your internship credentials and reel in the results. You can modify your search deeper by including the company name, identifying a search radius, and filtering by opportunity type. This is a great tool to get an overview of what is out there. Some more internship searching platforms are Looksharp.com, Wayup.com, and InternQueen.com.

Company Website

Do you have a dream company you are striving to be a part of? Check out their website for available opportunities. Companies will usually post job openings in the “Career” section of their website. Sift through the listings and see if any of them are realistic for an internship position. Don’t be afraid to apply. The worst thing that’s going to happen is you get a polite email from their loving, caring human resource department saying “sorry… but good luck!”

Email

A wise teacher once told me “you SEND emails, you GET emails back.” Take your hunt deeper in the company website. Find an email address. It can be any, but try to find someone with a position closest as possible to the department in which you’d like to intern. Attach your perfectly edited cover letter and your most up to date resume to an email addressed to the chosen receiver. In the body of the email, explain how you have been tirelessly trying to get an internship with the company, but “cannot find the proper person to contact… would you be able to help me out in any way? It would be greatly appreciated!”. The receiver will most likely send you an email back saying “hey, I’ll help you out by forwarding this off to Person X who is in charge of hiring, sourcing, recruiting, etc.” Then, like every eager person would, sit by your computer and refresh your inbox every two minutes for the next two weeks with your fingers crossed.

LinkedIn

If you are search savvy enough to find the human resource director of your dream intern company, connect with him or her on LinkedIn. LinkedIn makes it incredibly simple to connect with professionals, but sometimes too easy. The prewritten “I’d like to connect with you…” message is convenient, but imagine getting tons of those a day as a busy human resource director probably would. Stand out. Compose an elevator pitch as to why you’d like to connect with him or her. Make it clear you strive for an internship with his or her company. This will show that you are actively searching for a position in their company. If he or she responds, great! Get a dialog going and see what doors that opens. Do not, I repeat, do not get disheartened if “there are no available opportunities for you now.” This is a person who has connections to other people just like them. Ask if any businesses in similar fields, in the area, or in general may have opening. Ideally, he or she will send you some information on a company or a member of the staff that can help you elsewhere.

In Person

Walk-Ins

Salons typically welcome walk-ins, but what about businesses? Dress in your ready-to-interview attire, take a drive to your ideal internship location and walk right in. Explain your situation to the greeter or receptionist. Hopefully he or she will understand! Ask if there is a right direction he or she can point you in to talk with the right person. If not, ask for some contact information for someone who could help you. If the receptionist or greeter can’t give this to you, leave a copy of your resume, cover letter, and ask for him or her to relay a message to a higher-up.

Career Services on Campus

The career services center on your university’s campus is filled with tips and resources on the job world. Everything from resume tweaking, to tips on an interview outfit, to what internship would be best for your major, the career services center can be a goldmine. Universities have connection with businesses domestically and abroad. Businesses understand how important fresh talent is, so they will sometimes pair with local universities to provide them with minds to mold. See what your university has to offer you beyond the books. If you are a graduate job seeker, see what the career services center where you graduated from can do for you in your job search. Career services embody all sorts of services for any stage of your career.

Networking

Remember your father telling you one of his good friends owns an IT company? What was the name of it again? Find out! You’d be surprised at how opportunistic your own network can be. Spread the word that you are looking for an internship in a specific field. Because you’re “in the loop,” your message may be forwarded to opportunities that are not available to just anyone. Jealous of the internship your friend just scored over at the Fortune 500 company? See if there are any more spots! Ask your friend if you can use him or her as a reference. Having someone “out a good word in for you” can work wonders. People tend to trust their colleagues, especially when it comes to bringing new people in. Send a message to your network and see what arises!

 

Again, do not, I repeat, do not get disheartened if “there are no available opportunities for you now.” Timing is everything when it comes to things like this, so be patient. Relax. As long as you you’re your wheels turning, you will see results. Remember, you are not tied down to this company or the internship against your career’s will. You are there to learn!