For undergraduates, navigating the working world can be confusing and intimidating. School might teach you the fundamentals of your future occupation, but it doesn’t prepare you for what it means to have a career. What is it like to work for a salary? While entering the workforce will be foreign to some degree to new grads, internships allow them to wade gradually into these unfamiliar waters.
However, getting an internship is easier said than done, especially in some fields. I don’t consider myself an expert on securing internships by any means, I think these tips and tricks will help you find, apply to, and secure a few opportunities.
1. NARROW DOWN THE FIELD.
Depending on the subject matter you’re interested in, everything else will change. You don’t want to spread yourself too thin applying to everything when you can best showcase your strengths during particular recruiting periods. For example, if you have strong writing skills, you shouldn’t apply to every internship that requires strong writing skills. You might consider marketing or journalism (to just name a few options), but you should probably focus your search as much as possible.
Also it’s important to keep in mind, internships as a great way to know how it is to work in a field full-time. Therefore, you can have some interest in an internship and want to try it out, and not necessarily want to work in this field.
Chen says, “My internship at UCI in atmospheric chemistry really opened my eyes into what life is like as a scientist. And, just having that experience created so many possibilities for what I wanted to do or even begin to think about what I wanted to do. I think research is always something I thought about abstractly. But, the thing about research is that it’s so tangible.”
2. KNOW WHEN YOU ARE GOING TO BE RECRUITED.
Once you know what field you want to get into, you should find out when will be your busiest recruiting season. While some fields recruit all year round, like social work, others are more rigid. Tech internships are known for being on a rigid recruiting schedule. Here’s a great guide by University of Washington; this is specifically for UW students, but gives a general idea of when engineering recruiting happens (versus marketing or user experience, etc.).
3. HAVE A RESUME AND COVER LETTER READY TO GO.
It helps to have a working cover letter and resume to send out once your recruiting season begins. You should probably tweak them for each opportunity, but having a template will save you time.