How to Get an Internship with Little or No Experience.
Get an Internship: I believe you’ve been thinking about how to get an internship. Yes, I was once in that same situation back then in college and I had my way. I’m going to take you through the entire process of finding and getting an internship that will help you further your education and professional prospects.
What Is an Internship?
An internship is a short-term work experience offered by companies and other organizations for people—usually students, but not always—to get some entry-level exposure to a particular industry or field. It is as much of a learning experience as it is work.
Ideally, interns spend their time working on relevant projects, learning about the field, making industry connections, and developing both hard and soft skills. Internships sometimes even lead to full-time job offers.
What You Must Know Before an Internship
Knowing how to get internships is not rocket science. You have got many weapons in your arsenal to help find an internship speedily. Here’s what you have to do
1. Work with a career counselor at your school
Career counselors know where other students from your school are interning now or have interned before. They also work closely with on-campus recruiters from organizations in the area and even nationally. Thus, career counselors can be a prime source of internship leads for you.
2. Talk to your professors
As career counselors, your professors will also know where at least some students are interning now or have interned before. Additionally, many professors have consulted, research, and other ties to various companies and organizations outside of academia; thus, they may be aware of internship programs hosted by these organizations.
3. Network with your fellow students
If a student you know has an internship that intrigues you, ask him for advice on landing a similar internship yourself, either with the same organization or elsewhere.
Chances are that students who have internships now have a better sense of the many internship opportunities that exist, in both their own organizations and in others. So be sure to tap into their collective knowledge, especially as it relates to people you should contact.
4. Use your school’s alumni network
Most campuses, usually through their career services or alumni offices, work hard to establish and maintain contacts with alumni working in various organizations and industries. Consider contacting some alumni from your school to check into internships in their places of employment. You’d be surprised by how strong the fellow alum tie can be.
5. Tap into the resources of your own family and friends
Does your mother’s company have an internship program? Does your sister’s friend’s nonprofit organization offer any internship possibilities? Many college students don’t think to ask their family members, friends, and acquaintances to help them with career-related tasks like internship hunting. Be sure you don’t fall into this trap.
6. Page through an internship directory
If you stop by your school’s career services or campus library or spend some time browsing in your campus or local bookstore, you’ll undoubtedly find one or more internship directories listing internship programs at organizations around the US.
Several companies publish these guides, including Peterson’s Internships 2005 and The Internship Bible, 10th Edition. These books are typically well indexed so you can search for internships by the organization, the field of interest, and geographic location.
Once you’ve developed a list of internships, you can work with a career counselor to ready yourself for the important tasks to follow. Among them: developing and writing a resume and cover letter, learning how to follow up with prospective internship providers to keep yourself in the front of their minds, and preparing for internship interviews.
With time and diligence, your efforts will pay off in an internship that gives you the experience you need to land the future job you want.
Preparing Your Application Materials
No matter what job you apply to, there are a few key materials you’re going to want to have on hand. Here are the most common ones, and how to perfect them before you apply.
Resumes are brief documents that showcase your skills, education, and professional background. Typically, resumes will contain your name and contact info, education, professional summary, work experience, skills, and additional experience. If you’ve never written a resume before, using a template can be helpful.
Some tips to keep in mind as you write your resume:
- Use the STAR format — situation, task, action, and result — in your work experience bullet points
- Quantify your impact whenever possible (e.g. ‘Served 50-100 customers per day and handled a cash register that totaled over $1,000 a day in sales.’)
- List your key wins and accomplishments, not just your day-to-day tasks
- Highlight meaningful extracurriculars & awards
- Emphasize skills & responsibilities found in the job description
- Keep it clean, concise & easy-to-read
Cover letters add additional color and context to your application. It’s important to note, though, that cover letters shouldn’t just list what’s on your resume they should persuade whoever is reading the letter that you are uniquely right for the job.
While not always mandatory, cover letters are almost always a good idea. They show that you are passionate about the opportunity, and provide a more well-rounded picture of who you are as a candidate.
Some tips to keep in mind as you write your cover letter:
- Start with unique opening line anecdotes, quotes, and fun facts are all good options
- Do some research into the company, and mention a few things you’ve learned about it throughout the letter to showcase your knowledge of and passion for the organization
- Explain how your previous work experience has prepared you for this role
- Share a few ideas about how you would contribute to the company if hired
- Customize your cover letter for each new job that you apply to
Following Up & Finalizing the Offer
Once you have gotten past your interview, breathe — the hard part is over! But your work isn’t quite over just yet. To start with, you’ll need to send a thank-you note to anybody you spoke with. Thank-you notes show that you’re organized and thoughtful, which both matter a great deal to employers. To write a great thank-you letter:
- Send it within 24 hours
- Thank the interviewer for their time
- Mention what you enjoyed learning about the company
- End with a call-to-action that invites them to reach out to you for anything they might need
Then, it’s time to wait until an interviewer provides you with an update. If they don’t reach out to you when they said they would feel free to send a short check-in note — something like the following:
Dear [contact name],
I hope you’re doing well. I wanted to follow up about the [job title] role. I really enjoyed meeting you and the team last week, and I’m very interested in the opportunity. I’d love to know if there’s any further information I can provide during your hiring timeline.
With any luck, you’ll get an internship offer from the company shortly afterward. Most companies make it official by sending you an offer letter, which you will be expected to sign and return to them.
Look out for important details like start dates, responsibilities, pay, and location. You should also ask if there’s anything you can do between now and your start date to prepare for your role you want to make sure to start on the right foot.
Sharing this article with your friends on social media can go a long way in helping them get an internship.
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