Tips on Finding Internships
As spring break ends, and the spring semester draws to a close, college students begin making plans for their summer break. Some decide to work, some go to summer school, and others start an internship. Today, I want to talk about my experiences during my internships and give you all 5 tips on finding internships.
Before I graduated college, I completed 4 internships that covered my interests in social media marketing, journalism, and public relations. My first internship was the summer of 2013 before I began my junior year of college. I was a reporter for my hometown newspaper. I had the freedom to set my own work hours, I was able to pitch stories I was interested in, and I met a lot of interesting people in the community. The most rewarding experience during this first internship was learning how to write for print and digital. This was an important aspect to learn because although I took AP English throughout high school, journalism/PR writing is much different than writing for an English or literature class.
My second internship consisted of me running the Instagram and Facebook pages of a local shoe store. This internship was important to me because they had not previously had a social media intern. I got this position off of determination and persistence. I took the initiative to ask local businesses if they needed any help running their social media pages. I chose to do this job for free because I knew that it would only help me in the long run.
My third internship was through one of my PR courses and I had the opportunity of working with my university’s communications department. It only lasted for a month during the summer, and it was worth a huge chunk of our grade. I had the opportunity to help with a campus-wide campaign (I even helped brainstorm names), and attend events to write press releases on them. However, because I enjoyed the internship as much as I did, and I was pretty decent with the tasks I was given, I asked if I could work for them for the upcoming fall semester and they agreed to let me stay.
My fourth internship was a week-long, fully immersed experience with a PR agency in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The company had high-profile clients such as Walmart, P&G, Hilton Hotels, and Aussie. We spent that week reviewing case studies, participating in workshops, and attending sessions led by people who held various positions within the agency. Although I only spent a week in this internship, it was the one that stuck out the most on my resume, in my opinion. It also goes to show that it does not always matter how long you spend in an internship, but more so what knowledge and experience you gained during that time.
With that being said, it is important to know that the sooner you start gaining experience, the better. To get a job after graduation, you need the skills to land an entry-level position. My goal was to intern at least once a year. That meant sacrificing jobs, but thanks to my mom, I was able to do that. I understand that not everyone can work for free, but there are not many internships that will offer to pay you. Also, do not be discouraged if you are in your senior year, or have graduated already, and have not completed an internship. There are companies that look for seniors or recent graduates to intern for them, with the hopes of hiring them once they have completed their internship.
To give you a head start, here are a few tips on finding internships:
Gain as much experience as possible, as soon as possible
As I have previously stated, if you are in your sophomore or junior year of college, now is the time to get started. If you are overly ambitious, some companies will accept freshmen. If you are a senior or recent graduate, look for internships that offer an internship position. These could possibly become a full-time position upon completion of the internship.
Research listings through your college/school website.
As a business major and journalism minor, I found my first internship opportunity through the school of journalism website. The career center should also have listings. I also checked websites such as internqueen, glassdoor, indeed, and linkedin frequently. At one point, I wanted to intern in New York or Chicago. Those websites are good for that.
Begin your search 3-5 months in advance
That is usually when companies begin looking for an intern. Some, however, post listings as they become available, so you will see quite a few intern positions closer to the start of the summer, fall, or spring semesters.
Keep the goal in mind
The goal of an internship is to gain experience. Like I said before, at one point I wanted to intern in New York City for a well-known PR agency. I would’ve had to find somewhere to live and figure out how to commute on a daily basis. For me, that was just too much money, especially for a position that would’ve paid little to nothing. Therefore, I set my sights on local positions. In the end, it did not make a difference on where I interned. It just mattered that I had experience. Start small, and if you still want to go big, then you’ll at least be able to show that you’re capable of working somewhere with a higher profile.
Update your resume
It is important to include all relevant experience on your resume and keep it updated. No one wants to see that grocery store job you had when you were 16. Especially if it has nothing to do with the position you are applying for. Also, add some color and personality to your resume. Some companies receive so many resumes when they post a listing. If yours is plain white with black text, it is capable of going in the trash. Also, keep it to one page.
I could literally go on and on about internships, where to look, and how to land one. But these are the basics, and simply my experience with them. Everyone is different, and others will have a different experience than I had. But I think I covered the board, right? Keep these tips on finding internships in mind and please feel free to comment with any questions you may have or send me an email!