Last-Minute Internship Search: Create Your Own

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Before introducing the most proactive of strategies in an internship search, let’s recap the approaches leading up to it:

A strategy that has been gaining in popularity over the last few years is that of creating your own internship. While I’m covering it in terms of a last-minute search, it is a strategy that can be employed at any point in the internship search. And in the case of some career fields, it could be seen as a must-do.

So how do you go about this very direct approach? Here are some tips:

  • Determine your goals. If you are considering creating your own internship, you need to have a firm idea of what kind of work opportunity you want. What field are you trying to gain experience in? What do you hope to gain/learn from an internship? What kinds of daily duties would you like to be involved with? Think through these questions before going any farther in the process.
  • Research. Here is another element of any internship that keeps popping up. Researching your desired career field and potential employer is critical as you try to develop your own position. Know as much as you can about the field you are hoping to work in: nature of the work, training/educational requirements, typical work duties. As you move forward to identify organization that could offer you this work, learn as much as possible about them. What does the organization do? What is the organization’s reputation? What are the current needs of the organization?
  • Develop your internship proposal.Be prepared before you approach an organization you’ve found and researched. As you develop a proposal to put forward, focus on what you can offer the employer. Clearly, you will gain from an internship. But if an employer is going to take a risk and make an investment, at random, in you, focus on the benefits of this potential arrangement to them. Include the following in your written proposal:
    • A clear, concise description of what it is you are offering to do and why you think it will benefit the company.
    • The specific project you want to work on or the position you wish to fill.
    • Highlights of how you are the right person to do this work for the organization.
    • Your dates of availability and whether you are looking for a full-time or part-time position.
    • A copy of your resume that illustrates your strengths and the skills you possess that the organization needs.
  • Make contact and deliver your proposal. The key at this stage is to contact the person who has the power to say yes to your proposal and bring you on for the proposed project or position. While human resources might be a good place to start asking questions, they often don’t have the power to hire you. Get referrals to managers/supervisors in the area you want to work in or consult information online to identify the “right” person. Send your proposal to the best contact person via email or snail mail, then follow up by phone about a week after. Schedule a time to discuss your proposal in person or on the phone.

If creating your own internship is something you wish to pursue, do so with careful planning, resourcefulness, and a measure of assertion. For students who have been successful in the internship proposal process, they have gone on to have incredibly valuable experiences.

Photo by derrickcollins