Find an Internship in Six Steps

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College students are increasingly motivated to find a great summer internship.  Why? Countless studies don’t lie: College students with internships are more likely to land jobs at graduation.

Key steps to finding an internship:

Prepare.

Don’t underestimate your preparation. This means more than a polished resume. You want to be ready for a targeted approach which is in alignment with your interests and skills.  Employers won’t be interested in an applicant that says “I am interested in everything”. You need to be able to articulate what is important to you and this needs to be reflected on your resume and online profiles.

Tap college resources.

Every college student has lots of resources but not every one leverages them. Start with your college or university Career Services office. Find out what they offer and figure out how you can take advantage of their classes, programs and connections. Your college will have alumni and employer connections. Your professors have connections. And don’t forget about your university classmates who may have parents that are employers.

Power up Your Personal Network.

This network includes family, friends, neighbors, teammates, and high school pals. Make a list of this vast pool of contacts because you will need it. Connect with all of them on LinkedIn and your other key social networks. Your personal network is your team and they will want to help you. People love to advise and help college students and young professionals. If you do this right, you will find that people you hardly know will find contacts for you. This is how the world works so  be comfortable and use them.  ( Your sister’s roommate’s boyfriend’s cousin! ) This could seem remote but do not underestimate the power of relationships and connections.  It becomes a numbers game and the more connections and relationships you establish, the more likely you will find exactly what you are looking for.

Tap Social Resources.

Another resource is your social media contacts and profiles. Your online presence should be reflective of the professional you.  Learn how to search, follow and network on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

Network and Time Management.

Have you heard of the 80/20 rule? It works for job and internship seekers. 80% of your time should be spent on networking and only 20% online with search. It’s a fact that more opportunities will come your way by making good contacts and connecting with people.  And even if you do find a great job online, you will need to figure a way to find a personal connection.  Your networking approach? You are not asking for a job! You will be asking for career or industry advice.

Remember that you can learn from the experiences of others. If there is a specific internship or job listed that you are interested in, you need to apply for it with a personalized message about why YOU are the best candidate. The questions you ask are completely different for a networking contact vs a posted job.  WIth a posted job, you still need to network.Your best bet is to find a mutual connection or friend through LinkedIn who might be able to recommend you or guide you.

Follow Up.  Follow up.  Follow up.

Your follow up needs to be timely and personalized. If your prospective employer interviews multiple people, you have the opportunity to stand out by sending a personalized timely thank you note. Then be sure to also send another note about a week later if you haven’t heard back.  Checking in shows your interest.

The big news here is that your career is in your hands. Your success is exactly what you make yourself.  Make sure you connect yourself to the right opportunities.

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