If you are ready to start exploring your soon-to-be career, getting an internship is a great way to get exposure to your future field. Internships are typically structured for the college-student lifestyle. They often last only a semester (though some can last up to a year, depending on the company) and require part-time hours. Internships allow college students to balance their studies with their internships. They also offer direct, hands-on experience you can’t get in a classroom.
But to begin an internship, you need to know how to get an internship. Better yet, one that is the best fit for you. If you want to start your search, here is advice on how to find an internship.
Before you start updating your resume, determine what kind of internship you want. Make the job search more efficient by creating a list with the types of companies, responsibilities, and industries that interest you. As you search for opportunities, this list helps you quickly filter through what you do and do not want.
Imagine your dream job and its characteristics. Is it in-office or remote? Are you a people person or more of a behind-the-scenes worker? In addition to listing your ideal job characteristics, do research on your chosen industries and any particular companies you want to target.
Once you have a roadmap for what you’re looking for in an internship, you’ll need to revisit your experience and skills. Create a list of any responsibilities you’ve had up until now. (This includes domestic responsibilities like babysitting, for example.) From there, compare your experience and skills with the job duties you want to perform at your soon-to-be internship. Focus on the experience, skills and accomplishments that are relevant to the types of internships you want.
Now that you are organized and prepared for an efficient internship search, it’s time to hunt down those opportunities.
The first big step is done. You know the opportunities you want and how to connect them with your skills and experience. Now you actually have to find the internships.
While job boards are helpful and a fast way to connect to available internships, they aren’t the only way to find internships, and you may not be searching on the right boards. There are many great ways to get connected with an opportunity (including the right job boards) — it’s all about knowing what’s available to you.
Word of mouth is one of the most popular ways to find jobs. Many recruiters and hiring managers rely on referrals from people they trust, which means many jobs are filled before they are even publicly listed. Many sources even say that 85 percent of jobs are filled through word of mouth.
Networking is the best way to get in front of those word-of-mouth opportunities. And, in a post-2020 world, networking has become easier. There are now more virtual conferences, webinars and meetings than ever, in addition to the in-person events we’re familiar with. To start networking regularly, Meetup and LinkedIn are two great places to connect with others, share ideas and ask for advice.
Originally intended to connect people across the globe, social media is now a hotspot for employers and job seekers. A 2021 study found 91 percent of employers use social media to fill open job positions. This also means those employers are looking at your profile. Before applying to a job, ensure your profile is professional, as 55 percent of employers find social media content that removes a candidate from the pool.
Employers aren’t the only ones that professionally benefit from social media. Websites like LinkedIn — where 50 million people search for jobs each week — exist for professionals to find opportunities and grow their networks.
Over on Facebook, Groups have become a reliable tool to access jobs. There are Facebook Groups solely dedicated to connecting people with opportunities, either generally or by sector. Below are some Facebook Groups to get you started:
Deepen your search by exploring these Facebook Groups and connecting with the people in them.
Major job boards have their purpose, however, they have grown to the point where it is hard to filter out scams and set yourself apart from the large competition browsing the same posts.
Niche job boards help cut through the noise to present opportunities that correspond with specific sectors, industries and skills. There are a few - like InternJobs and WayUp - that even cater to only internship positions.
Some niche platforms that are helpful for future interns include:
Through networking, browsing Facebook Groups and targeting opportunities through niche job boards, you won’t need to touch oversaturated job listings.
Now that you know where to find internships, you need to know how to secure that opportunity. Internships are real-world positions, so treat them as such by creating an application package that gets a hiring manager’s attention.
Always review the job description and duties before applying. Just like any other opportunity, you should look for internships that fit both your interests and skills. When you apply to a position, you should have the skills to do or learn most of the duties. If you don’t, it is not worth the effort to apply.
It can be easy to hit “apply” to everything, but the time you put into each well-suited opportunity is worth the investment.
Once you review the job description and decide to move forward, you’ll need to adjust your resume to fit that position.
Recruiters and hiring managers are looking for the best fit, and it’s your job to show them you are the best person for the role. To do so, target your resume to the job you want by only incorporating the most relevant information.
As you’re reading the job description, take note of the words used and try to incorporate the most relevant ones in your resume. Hiring managers quickly scan through resumes, so incorporate some of the words they are looking for.
If you're new to this process, we highly recommend these resume examples as a reference for how to use keywords strategically. Just don’t include any skills you don’t actually have. Teal's Resume Builder makes it easy to match keywords in a job description to accomplishments on your resume.
Treat every step of your application process the same as you would for a full-time job. An internship is a legitimate professional experience, so your application package must be professional, neat and impressive. That includes writing a strong cover letter to accompany your resume.
When writing your cover letter, remember to show, not tell. Instead of saying you are a natural leader, give an example of a leadership moment. Incorporating these examples gives hiring managers and recruiters more context surrounding your skills, as well as a glimpse at your personality.
Similar to showing examples, incorporating hard data into your resume and cover letter tells a potential employer that you know how to execute a job and have a strong work ethic. Was there a time—whether at school, on a sports team or at a job—where you had to step up and become a leader? Incorporate how many people turned to you and what it meant to take on the role.
With the right resources and tips, finding an internship is no longer an overwhelming task.
A successful job search includes applying to multiple opportunities that fit your interests and skills. Your search is a process, and that process works better when it is organized.
Teal’s Job Tracker makes organizing your job search simple. Download the free tool as a Chrome extension to keep track of the internships you’ve applied to, the ones you want to apply to and the follow-ups needed to pursue a job. Additionally, the tool stores all your work history in one place, making it simple to customize your resume to each opportunity.