In addition to paid internships you may want to look into ways to fund your internship (check your college’s career services office, various organizations and foundations, etc.). Some students are able to do an unpaid internship in their field of interest by supplementing their internship with a part-time job.
A successful internship is one that consists of one or more of the following:
- An internship that teaches the basic knowledge and skills required to getting hired for a full-time job (either in the company where you interned or one of its competitors).
- An internship experience that will reflect positively on your resume.
- An internship that helps you develop professional networking contacts that can assist you in your future job search
I often tell students that some of the best internship experiences are a result of prospecting. Identifying companies or organizations that you want to work for can end up providing some of the best internships around for a number of reasons. First, by identifying companies that don't actually advertise their internships you will avoid competing with thousands of other applicants who also found the internship listing online. Secondly, by contacting a company directly, you will often get an opportunity to help create the type of experience you are seeking and may be allowed to have some input into what the internship involves.
For students from smaller cities and towns, prospecting is often the only way to find potential internships. It’s important to follow some simple strategies in order to increase your chances of landing the internships of your dreams. Of course, the career field or industry you are pursuing will largely determine if paid internships are available.
Even with prospecting it is not a guarantee that students will be able to land a paid internship. Employers have seen a significant rise in the number of students seeking internships. Part of this increase is due to the fact that more students are realizing that employers are looking for students who have the relevant experience required to hire on for future full-time jobs. Another reason is because a number of seniors (and post-graduates) are also interested in finding an internship because they currently cannot find a job in their area of interest. This says a lot about the state of our current economy and less about employer requirements or the lack of knowledge and skills of our recent college graduates.
Paid Internship Programs:
There are some internship programs that offer excellent salaries but many are expensive and require a fee in order to participate in the program. I do not usually recommend programs with fees but for the right student who can easily afford paying a fee for their internship, some excellent opportunities exist in specific industries and career fields.
Helpful Tips for Students:
- Be sure to network with family, friends, acquaintances, previous employers, faculty, and your college’s alumni to seek out people who are currently doing the type of work you want to do.
- Volunteer experiences and part-time jobs can often turn into full time jobs post graduation.
- Search and research organizations so you can include that information in your cover letter or introduction email as you reach out to employers through websites or when prospecting for internships online.
- Create well-crafted, targeted resumes and cover letters that focus on the organization and position to which you are applying (remember that just one typo can put you out of the running).
- Be sure to follow-up with employers via email or phone and don’t forget the importance of thank notes in the interviewing process. Oftentimes students feel that they are being a pest but many companies see this behavior as gauging a motivated student as well as someone who really wants to come and work for their particular company. Expressing appreciation and inquiring about where the interviewing process currently stands can be done in a way that does not annoy a prospective employer and may end up being what it takes to get invited for an interview.