Internship Tips

If you’re searching for internships but aren’t completely sure about the career you want, don't be afraid to try different things in fields that interest you. The point of a college internship is to gain experience and professional skills, and to figure out what you enjoy and what you’re good at. If you’re not sure, having a different internship or job each semester might be just what you need to figure out what you want to do when you graduate.

You should be extensively researching the companies you might intern at and apply to. It’s important to get an understanding of the culture of the business before sending in a resume or heading in for an interview. It may also be helpful to read any reviews of the company, but remember to gauge where each review is coming from. Don’t base everything on one good review or one bad one.

Even if a company isn’t hiring interns until the summer, you should be in contact with them as early as the beginning of February, for an example of the time frame for summer internships. Follow up on your resume or application no later than one week after you send it (if you haven’t heard from the company already). You can follow up a couple more times too to show how interested you are in the position. You don’t want to be annoying, but persistence does pay off, and the worst thing they can say is that you’re too early in applying or that your application hasn’t been reviewed yet. Plus, your consistent communication can help etch your name into the minds of those you’ve been in contact with, so you have a better chance of securing an interview when they do begin reviewing applications.

Have folders in your e-mail for all your correspondence with potential internships so you can save every e-mail. This can help you remember previous conversations and spark your memory if they say to contact them at a later time. In addition, keep your calendar organized with any calls or interviews you have scheduled. Set reminders and alarms. The last thing you want to do is confirm a call in an email and then completely forget about it the day of.

You’ve landed an interview! Here are a few interview-specific tips:

– Be on time! You want to be checking in for your interview at least five minutes before your scheduled start time. Nothing looks worse than showing up late for an

– Dress professionally. Even if it is a more casual company or occupation that doesn’t require professional clothes, always dress a little nicer than the job entails.

– Practice your handshake. Weak handshakes are not welcome in the professional world and you want to impress them from the beginning.

– Bring a few copies of your resume with you, even if you previously sent it to the employer.

– DO NOT USE YOUR PHONE DURING THE INTERVIEW. Even if you are completely used to entering information or taking notes via your phone or tablet, just this once use a notepad. It’s disrespectful to be on a device during an interview, because it’s impossible to know if you’re paying attention or doing other things.

– Write any questions down you may have for the interviewer, and take notes during the interview, all on the same notepad.

– Be honest. If the interviewer is detailing the job’s responsibilities and it requires something you can’t do—such as working nights, weekends, and/or more hours in the week than you can give—tell them! It may be uncomfortable, but what’s more uncomfortable is accepting a job offer you can’t fulfill the duties of.

– To keep everything organized, invest in a portfolio to bring to interviews.

– Write and email/mail a note once the interview has concluded, that day, to the interviewer thanking him or her for their time and insight about the job.

It’s very easy to get down on yourself if you don’t know what you want to do in your career, can’t seem to find any internships, or have not gotten any of the internships you applied for. It’s even worse when your peers share their successes with internships while you have nothing to show for all your hard work! But don’t ever give up or get discouraged, because if you keep trying and do everything you can to meet your goals, the rest will fall into place. Researching and applying for internships is an extensive and exhausting process, especially on top of everything else you may have going on in college, but it will be rewarding when your resume boasts excellent experiences after graduation!