Finding a Summer Internship

As summer approaches, many high-school and college students are looking frantically for something to do over the summer. Although having a “real job” would be nice, that is sometimes unfeasible for a student with little or no job experience. Internships can be a great way to pick up some of that experience and learn more about your chosen field. Even for students with lots of job experience, internships can be a valuable ‘taste’ of a future career.

However, internships tend to be extremely competitive. What’s the best way to get one? Here are some tips.

1. Choose Your Field
The job market is so huge that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Once you’ve chosen at least a general field of interest, it will be much easier to navigate. Think about what you might want to do “when you grow up”, but don’t stop there. Are you willing to try new things with skills you already have? Make a list of what you know you’re good at and how that could possibly apply to a modern workplace. Think positively. You may not think you have marketable skills, but you most likely do. Also, make sure you don’t have too narrow of a focus. If you’re good at writing, don’t just look at magazines and newspapers but also think about ad agencies, cruise lines (they need brochures written too!), or communications companies.

2. Write a Resume
This is maybe the most important step. Resumes are often the first thing an employer will notice about you. Make sure you put what’s important to you on your resume; employers will want to know what you are passionate about. You may not think your three years of volunteering at a cat adoption center count for much, but it shows that you are a compassionate, dedicated person. On the other hand, don’t pad your resume. Just as in college applications, hiring managers generally see right through that. As you read through your resume, think: did I commit to this? Is this something I want someone to know about me? What does this say about me? Additionally, make sure your resume is clean and professional looking, with a nice font. Make sure your contact information is clear and noticeable – otherwise, how will they notify you for your interview?

3. Interview, Interview, Interview.
Never turn down an interview, even if it’s for a place you don’t think you’ll want to work. There’s always a chance you’ll change your mind, and even if you decline the job you’ll have gained valuable interview experience. The more interviews you go on, the more familiar you’ll be with the format and the questions. For instance, once you’ve answered 20 ‘What’s your greatest strength and weakness?’ questions, the answer will roll right off your tongue. You’ll look confident, under control, and well-adjusted. Interviews are a critical moment to present yourself to an employer, not just as an employee but as a human being. Are you witty? Kind? Make sure to show that off in your interview. Strut your stuff!

4. Use Your Connections.
Ask your mom, dad, neighbors, aunts and uncles, professors, friends, friends’ parents – anyone you can get your hands on – if their company takes interns. You might be surprised, and someone to put in a good word for you always helps. There’s no shame in asking for help in this important process.

5. Don’t Get Discouraged.
Your first job search will be horrific. You’ll be rejected. This is inevitable. What you have to remember is that it’s not a personal reflection on you. There are thousands of other nice, qualified people in your city looking for the exact same internships you are. You’ll find one eventually. Keep thinking that and you can sail right on through the process. Good luck!

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