Internships: Where & How to Start

Now that we have crept into the second semester of our school year, we have to start looking towards the future about Summer jobs, classes, and potentially internships. Internships are a great way to get your foot in the door with a company you can see yourself having a future with or even a great way to get experience your field of study in the real world. I think every college student should aim to get at least one internship during their higher academic career to help gain experience in a professional workplace as well as expand your knowledge of your subject area.

The thing about internships is that there are so many people vying for one or two spots with not enough positions to go around. This task itself can be daunting, but it's great training for when you're searching for your first job as a senior in college. The highest goal of having an internship is to be offered a position at the company as a full time employee or to have you stick out from the rest of the applications when the time comes to apply.

I already have my Summer internship locked in and I can't wait to get going on it. I am a communications and public relations major with a minor in writing so I wanted to find a position that hit mass communications, public relations, and creative writing. I emailed about a dozen companies and brands and ended up getting replies back from 60% of them. The company I'm working with this summer, although on the smaller side, allows me to work closely with the design and branding teams. I can dip my toe in product design as well as email marketing and PR organization. My internship truly is exactly what I was looking for, but when I first started my search I didn't know where to look or even how to really start. I learned so much just by experience and research, so I want to share my best tips and tricks with you today so you too can find your perfect internship.

Start Now -- Even though Summer seems so far away, this is the prime time to start looking for internships. Everyone will be scrambling in March and April to find one, so it's wise to get going now. By reaching out to companies and businesses in January, you are showing your initiative and your want to work and learn.

Start with Who You Know -- Your connections are a great place to start when it comes to searching for internships. I was lucky in my search just because I had some great contacts from blogging that I could reach out to first. If you personally don't have many contacts, ask your parents if they know of any friends who are searching for interns. If that doesn't work, put out a little post on Facebook. Just getting the word out there and creating buzz about internships will get people talking and bring the feedback flooding in. If you want to work in the medical field approach your old pediatrician office or the hospital. Go to who you know first to increase your success rate on finding your perfect internship.

Make a LinkedIn -- LinkedIn is kind of like Facebook but for jobs and your career. You can post your resume and accolades to your profile and companies will list job positions they are trying to fill as well. Big brands will list everything you need to know about a position. Just a few weeks ago, Vineyard Vines listed about 8 internship positions with full detail and timelines. You can set alerts for specific companies to see when they post job listings too so you never miss an update.

Email is Your Best Friend -- Email is the way to go when looking for an internship. There are a few key things that you need to include when you are seeking out your perfect internship. You need to know what you want and be able to persuasively convey those wants to companies. Start with warmly introducing yourself and establishing a connection with the company, brand, or business. If it's an insurance company try to make a personal connection based on a past experience. If it's a brand, mention why you love the brand and know their history of how they came to be. Include your field of study, what you want to get out of the internship, how you think this match is beneficial for both you and the company itself. Also include if you are willing to travel, if you're looking for something paid, and where you are located during the summer. Answer all of the companies questions before they ask them. This shows preparation on your part. Also make sure to attach your resume on every email.

Follow Up -- If you want something, go after it. Give your email seven business days. If you still don't hear anything it's okay to send a follow up email and remind the company why you want to work with them. Either they'll notice it and send back a polite "no", or they business with respond to try to work something out or at least furthermore discuss the possibility of them finding a spot for you at the company.

Be Ready for an Interview -- After emailing, getting an interview is always the next step to success. Sometimes these can be phone interviews, Skype interviews, or if you're lucky, a face to face interview. In my experience, I always think the face to face interview is the best way to go. You can shake their hand, have interpersonal communication, read their nonverbal communication, and establish better connections through a more personal meeting. I find it easier to get your point across and really make an impression in person. For more information on locking in a job once you get offered an interview, check out this post.

Have any more questions? Feel free to email me about specifics!

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