Let the countdown begin.
With the most cherished season of the year right around the corner, students are scrambling to make preparations for their summer excursions into offices around the nation. If you’re still unsure about where to intern, what type of internship to get, or how to stand out during the application process, follow our guide for assistance during your search. And don’t panic, April is the busiest time of the year for companies recruiting summer interns. If you apply now, you still have a very good chance of getting hired.
Having an internship during the summer is an invaluable experience and employers are now focused on transforming summer recruits into full-time employees. So before you jump onto your laptop and send out applications, take into consideration a few key decisions to help focus your search.
Step 1: Decision-making
Pick your Industry. Whether you’re conquering your first internship or gaining a third, it is important to clarify which industry you want to explore this summer. Are you dipping your toes into a totally new field or trying to get more experience in an industry you’ve already chosen? Whatever it might be, focus your search on positions that foster your passions and sharpen your skills.
Inside Tip: If you want to work in a profession that is a common asset to a wide range of companies, make sure it is in an industry that excites you. For example, if you’re keen on Marketing, choose an industry or company that you are interested in, not the first marketing position you see. Interning in marketing for a fashion company versus a rideshare organization will produce different experiences. Your internship will be much more rewarding if you’re immersed in an environment that you’re passionate about.
Paid Internships versus Unpaid Internships. Which will you choose? The National Association of Colleges and Employers 2013 student survey found that 63 percent of students who obtained a paid internship before graduation received at least one job offer. In comparison, only 37 percent of unpaid interns received an offer after graduation.
From an hourly wage to a monthly stipend, paid internships offer financial support while exploring career options. Nothing feels better than getting compensated for all the groundbreaking work you will contribute as an intern, but don’t let the money become your main motivator.
We highly recommend you try to get paid for your internship, but if that is impossible, unpaid internships can still be helpful. Unpaid internships allow you to spend time learning a trade, getting work experience, and building a network of professionals who can write you letters of recommendation.
Inside Tip: Not all majors are created equal, leading to a rift in the recruitment of paid interns. Students studying non-technical majors like journalism and liberal arts will have a more difficult time finding paid positions. College freshmen may have an even harder time. Although unpaid internships have had their fair share of negative reviews, they still count as valuable learning tools.
Full-Time versus Part- Time. Are you dedicated enough to work full-time this summer or would you rather spend a majority of your week lounging under the sun? Before considering any internship, make sure the time requirements coincide with your summer plans.
- 10 – 20 hours a week.
- Perfect for students who already have another job.
- You will be able to focus on other activities or interests.
- Ideal for students who have travel plans for the summer.
- Can be credit or non-credit.
- 20-40+ hours a week.
- Usually are paid.
- Perfect for students edging closer to graduation.
- Better chance of getting hired.
- A faster way to navigate a career choice.
Start Up versus Large Company. Don’t restrict yourself by only searching for big name companies. Keep an open mind and look for opportunities that match your career objectives and offer hands-on experience.
- Perfect for those who want to start their own business one day: You are able to witness a business being built from the ground up.
- Work side by side with the company founders and top executives.
- Everyone’s actions are interconnected, and your work directly affects the company as a whole.
- You’ll probably have to find your own housing for the summer and figure out how you’ll get to the office on your own.
- More flexibility to wear different hats and contribute to the development and execution of multiple projects.
- Need to assess the legitimacy of a startup–selling sneakers out of someone’s trunk does not make a company a startup.
- You have the opportunity to receive more benefits, perks, and a higher pay.
- You’ll be able to reference a recognizable brand name.
- Since larger firms tend to be more structured and organized, your duties as an intern will be concise and well defined.
- There is a visible line between intern and full-time employee, so there is less of an opportunity to learn from the decision makers running the company.
Inside Tip: Search for internship opportunities in companies that you’ve always desired to work for, and utilize social media during your hunt. Look through their official twitter handle or find out if they have a career profile that consistently tweets out open positions. Companies’ like Disney and NPR even have accounts dedicated to hiring new interns.
Location. Location. Location. It is imperative to make realistic decisions when applying for summer positions. If your heart is set on moving to internship hotspots like New York City or San Francisco, make sure you can afford the move and lodging. You can always contact your career center for information on summer funding resources and grants.
Inside Tip: If you can’t come up with enough money to move, consider virtual internships. With 33 percent of employers hiring virtual internships, it’s surely a practice on the rise and their are plenty of options on InternMatch. Many smaller businesses allow this option even if it is not expressly mentioned. That said, you don’t want to lead an employer on. Bring up your interest in working remotely early in the interview process so that you don’t waste your time and theirs. A good time to do this is after your initial application is approved and you are invited for an interview. Ask if remote is an option so you don’t totally rule out the position if they say no.
What is the role? What will your day-to-day responsibilities include? Will you wear different hats around the office, or will you be confined to twitter?
When choosing an internship, read between the lines and try to determine how much “hands on” experience you will be able to gain. If you need more clarification, don’t be afraid to reach out to the hiring manager with questions.
Inside Tip: Get the inside scoop from former interns. Read reviews on Glassdoor, the Business Insider or student blogs.
Do you match the preferred and minimum qualifications? Employers usually require students to meet a certain level of expertise, either professionally or in the classroom. Requirements provide the most insight to a role. Try not to waste your time applying to positions you’re over or under-qualified for, and don’t skim over GPA requirements or preferred interests.
Inside Tip: Utilize resources like SkillShare to help boost your proficiency in areas like business, design, technology, and even entrepreneurship.
Is there an early or late application deadline? If you apply for the position a month after the application deadline, you may be wasting your time. But take into consideration companies like NPR who moved the due date of the summer internship application thanks to the high number of students who reached out to them via Twitter. If you miss the application deadline, but you can’t imagine your summer without this position, try sending a tweet to the company’s internship or official twitter handle.
Step 2: Apply. Now that you’ve created a list, carefully checking it twice, it is time to prepare your application materials.
Perfect Your Resume. You’ve probably heard of students who have landed internships using hyper-creative resumes. They may be cool, but most employers prefer a clean professional resume, so refrain from spending money on fancy templates. But if you want to get creative, search online for resume examples, take your favorite aspects of each, and mimic those features on your own. A great alternative is to have a more traditional resume, but then have a more innovative and in-depth student profile on InternMatch that showcases your creative side.
Inside Tip: Afraid your lack of experience will ruin your chances of being hired? Substitute the empty spaces on your resume with job related coursework, on-campus activities, and volunteer work. Expand on any experience that that might have involved the planning, management, and execution of an event or project.
Cover Letter. A cover letter is like fine wine. It gets better with time. Always work towards improving your cover letter with every position that you apply for. Immediately begin your letter introducing the position, then of course of yourself. Compliment the company then clearly state why you’d be perfect for the internship. Emphasize your personal and professional skills, job related experience, and long-term and short-term goals. Accentuate your desire to work for the firm and mention any quick fun facts about yourself that will help get noticed and stand out from the crowd.
Inside Tip: Create a synchronized application, using the same style and branding you used on your resume to create your cover letter.
Keep social media up to date. We will continue to reiterate this subject until it is imprinted in your memory: Social media can either make or break you! Keep your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Google+ up to date. Add photos of you involved in community service, retweet influencers and articles that relate to your industry, and publish work that you’re proud of. Delete any profanity you may have tweeted before a stressful final or any photos that display you as a heavy drinker.
Inside Tip: Scary fact. When you like or comment on a YouTube video, people can see it on your Google+ profile. I know, it’s terrifying! All those dancing baby and singing cats videos will be present for anyone who comes across your profile. Go to your settings and manually turn off this video sharing option.
“Social media is a primary vehicle of communication today, and because much of that communication is public, it’s no surprise some recruiters and hiring managers are tuning in.” – (Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder)
Follow up emails. If it’s been two weeks and you haven’t heard anything back from an employer, send a follow up email confirming that they have received the materials. Inquire if any additional information is needed. Go over our Ultimate Guide to Following Up for more help.
Inside Tip: Reach out on social media with a professional presence. Retweet the company and try to keep a connection through social sites.
Now Relax… April is one of the best months of the year to apply for summer internships. Start your hunt with us!