How to Find an Internship

The first step to getting that all important internship is finding it. So this is where we will start your semester-long journey towards internship success.

First of all, finding an internship is not much different from finding any other job. This is one of the reasons I believe all students should seek out an internship opportunity. It’s perfect practice as you approach the BIG job search when graduation looms.

There are a variety of ways to find out about an internship opportunity. Here are the most common:

  • Internship Postings. Check out online internship/job boards for openly advertised internship opportunities. There are a seemingly endless number of websites out there. Some are exclusively for internships, like Internships.com. Others are resources you can use now for internships and use in the future for post-grad jobs, such as Hawk Jobs. Stick to quality search sites – Check with a career advisor if you are questioning a source. Also keep in mind that this is the most popular way to search for internships. The higher volume of viewers means more applicants for the opportunities and more competition for you. Read my previous post on effectively searching internship postings.
  • Employer Sourcing. Know of a company or organization that you would LOVE to intern for? Check them out directly. Once you identify an organization, see if they have internship opportunities posted on their website. If they don’t, reach out by phone or email. Read more about the complete employer sourcing process, from finding organizations to making contact.
  • Networking. Have you ever heard that it’s all about who you know? Well, it’s true. Next to searching postings and connecting directly with specific employers, networking has proven to be an effective strategy for UW-Whitewater students seeking internships. You already have connections through family and friends, and it’s never too late to build new ones. I’ve written about networking A LOT, but this networking post is a good overview of using it as a strategy in your search.
  • Create Your Own. Did you know that it is sometimes possible to create your own internship? This is a very proactive approach. But if you can make it happen, there is the potential to have one of the best internship experiences possible. Interested? Read all about the process of creating an internship.

Curious how other UW-Whitewater students found their internships? Read the stories of interns who have been featured in our Intern Spotlight (aka Intern of the Month Program).

Have you started searching for internship opportunities? What strategies are working for you?

Photo from I Has A Hotdog

Last-Minute Internship Search

The Point of No Return

On Monday, I hosted my “Last-Minute Internship Search” workshop. I covered a variety of strategies that students can employ at this point in the semester in order to hopefully secure an internship for this summer…which is only about a month, month-and-a-half away.

I know that there are still plenty of people in this last-minute boat. So for the next few weeks, I am going to cover a strategy you can use at this point in the internship search game. This week’s focus: Internship Postings.

Essentially, internship postings are electronic want ads. Many of you are likely using this resource: searching online internship/job boards is easy. But the ease and volume of users is one of this strategy’s downfalls. Internships that are posted have higher exposure, leading to more applicants and more competition.

While perusing internship postings seems like a no-brainer strategy, here’s how to do it effectively:

  • Identify positions of interest. Most internship posting sites allow you to search in a number of ways. You can use keywords to narrow down options or possibly sort by industry or job category. On the other hand, you might be able to pull up EVERY internship listed. This can be helpful if you’re not sure what you’re looking for – you can gain some insight into what types of internships appeal to you and work from there.
    • UW-Whitewater Internships Website, “Find an Internship” section: Access Hawk Jobs, General Search Resources, and Field-Specific Programs/Resources.
    • Hawk Jobs: Within Hawk Jobs, UW-W students can access some “hidden” treasures. Navigate to the Career Resources section along the top menu. EmployOn and Internships.com are both excellent.
  • Research the organization. The importance of employer research can’t be stressed enough. The information you gather about an organization should be used as you craft your application materials and during the interview process. Here are some questions to explore:
    • What does the organization do?
    • What is the size of the organization?
    • How is the organization structured?
    • What is the organization’s reputation?
    • What are the credentials of their top leaders?
  • Understand the application process. Worst-case scenario: You find an internship you would LOVE, and then completely miss the application deadline. Know how to apply and mark applicable deadlines.
  • Adapt your application materials. Targeting your resume is key at any point in time, but I might argue it’s even more important now. You want to stand apart from the competition in the best way possible. Make it easy for an employer to “see” how you are qualified. Develop a cover letter specifically for the given internship and for the particular organization. Your cover letter provides you with an opportunity to go more in depth about what you bring to the table, especially important if this would be your first internship. Work with a career counselor on both of these important documents.
  • Submit your materials. Enough said.
  • Follow up. Follow-up is a key step in the process, but it’s also a delicate one. Follow up too soon, too often, or too inappropriately and you can erase any chance of getting an interview. First, only follow up on your application IF it’s ok. Some organizations will specifically state, “No Calls.” If you see this, don’t follow up. If follow-up is an option, as is most often the case, then do so just before the deadline or 2 weeks after your application submission. You can check that they received your materials, ask what the next step in the process is, inquire what the anticipated timeline is for the process, and express your continued interest in the position. Short, sweet, to the point.

Be sure to start NOW and work at your search consistently. Not much time remains. Next Monday, I’ll cover Employer Sourcing. Stayed tuned!

Photo by Pat Hawks

Question of the Week:

What is your favorite site for finding posted internships?