I think by now you know, but I’m currently on an internship until the end of April. I’ve written a few posts about it, but every time I get questions about the entire internship process. Trust me, I get it. Internships can be scary! But they’re also a great opportunity to work in your field before you graduate and gain some relevant experience! So, how do you find and land internships? I crafted this step-by-step guide to landing your dream internship to help you do just that!
Step 1: Decide what kind of internship you want.
Before you plunge head first into the internship process, you need to figure out what you want. What are you hoping to get from this internship? Are there any specific tasks that you like to try out? What field do you want to work in? (because some fields can be quite large) Those are the kind of questions you need to ask yourself before you even start applying. Why? Because that will impact your entire internship search!
Quite honestly, that’s probably the part that I found to be the hardest. As this was my first internship, I didn’t really know what I was hoping to get from it. I just had to find one, so I thought that was it. But it’s actually a lot harder than that. You need to get at least a pretty good idea of why you’re doing this and what you are hoping to learn. I knew I wanted to work somewhere I could touch a lot of things related to communications: social media, event planning, writing, etc. As this was the first of the three internships I am required to do during my undergrad years, I was hoping to get to try as many things as I could in order to have a better idea of what careers I want to have once I graduate.
Step 2: Craft the perfect resumé.
Your resumé is your introduction to potential employers. This is your first step in the door and the first thing you should do once you’ve decided what kind of internship (or job!) you want. I know things are not done the same in the US as they are here in Quebec, but there are a few basics that every resumé should include, no matter where you’re from.
Before you even start thinking about formatting, write down all the information you need to include into a document. Must-have sections include personal information (like your phone number and your email address), education, particular skills (such as languages and computer skills), and past jobs (if you have any). The skills you include might change, depending on what you’re hoping to get from this internship and the position you’re applying for. You should also include volunteer work, relevant personal and school projects, extra-curricular activities, awards or honors, and anything that you find relevant. And don’t forget about interests and hobbies! This might seem ridiculous, but it shows what kind of person you are, and it demonstrates your ability to juggle more than one thing at once!
And let’s make things clear here. Everyone has experience. You may not have any work experience, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have anything to show! Employers aren’t necessarily looking for experience, especially in the case of an internship. They are looking for skills. If you show that you do have those skills, you have just as much a chance at landing the internship as the next person. Instead of focusing on your lack of work experience, concentrate on what you have accomplished.
Also, don’t make things too long. Your resumé should be between 1-2 pages, not any longer! Go straight to the point and display the skills you want to show. A lack of focus shows that you do not know what you want!
I have written an entire post about creating the perfect resumé even if you have no experience if you need more tips on crafting a resumé!
Step 3: Start looking.
Now you’re ready to get to work! Start looking around you for possible internships. And the key here is network, network, network! If you’re going to find your internship on your own, your network is everything. Let your entourage know what you’re up to. They can be extremely helpful and their relationships with people in your field might play in your favor! Letting people around you know you’re looking for an internship will make them pay more attention to the opportunities around them, and it might help you in the long run!
You might also want to stop by your career center and see if they are able to help! I personally went through them to find my internship and it made the whole process a lot easier. They are paid professional and can assist you and guide you in this search! It never hurts to at least drop by.
Step 4: Apply!
Now that you know about the opportunities, now is the time to apply! Depending on where your applying, the procedure might be different. You might have to apply online or in person, but it never hurts to send an email with a copy of your resume. I would suggest introducing yourself, mentioning how you heard of the opportunity or inquiring if they have any intern position available at the moment, and explaining why you think you would be a good candidate as well as why you are interested. Also, I would recommend sending a PDF copy of your resumé and letter of motivation if that’s required (I never had to write one yet, but I’m sure there are many posts online about the thing!).
Don’t forget to follow up after a week! (or more, it’s as you wish) Not everyone reads their emails as soon as they enter their inbox, and sometimes emails simply get lost in cyberspace. Don’t hesitate to call or shoot the person another email if you haven’t heard back from them after a while.
I personally didn’t have to go through all of this because I applied through my university’s career center. I simply had to submit a PDF version of my resumé, and apply to internships that I thought seemed interesting on the university’s website! But I know not everyone gets to be as lucky.
Step 5: Go on interviews.
This step is probably the most stressful one. It’s the time when you finally meet potential employers, and it’s your only chance to make a good first impression. You’re also one step closer to landing that dream internship.
I know interviews might be a lot of pressure (trust me, I know! I’ve had 16 interviews in less than 2 weeks, so I know what it’s like), but let me tell you something: if you have an interview, that means they’re already interested in hiring you! Otherwise, they wouldn’t have bothered. So take a deep breath, and be yourself! Answer those questions to the best of your abilities, and everything will be alright.
I believe that a good interview is all about preparation. Make sure you read my post about how to prepare for an interview! (and don’t forget to grab the bonus worksheet!) I also wrote a post filled with tips you should know to crush your interviews! Honestly, practice makes perfect! The more interviews you’ll do, the more comfortable you’ll become. After 16, I was barely even nervous when I showed up to interviews! When you have more than one in your day, the whole thing becomes less stressful, which is good!
Step 6: Land the internship!
Congrats! You did it! After everything you’ve been through, you have finally landed the perfect internship. Maybe you have been offered more than one position. That’s awesome news! But now you’ll have to choose. Don’t choose solely based on location. I had to move to a completely different city that is over an hour and a half drive from home, but I’m so glad I chose the internship that I have! Make sure you’re going to learn something and that it’s going to be fulfilling. Trust me, location is nothing and the experience you’ll gain is so worth it!
Other things you need to know:
- Start early! Finding internships doesn’t happen overnight. It took me MONTHS before I finally got where I am today! Take into account you’re going to have to put a lot of time and effort into this, so the earlier you start, the better! It’s also reassuring to know you’re settled a couple of weeks before the internship starts. And since you’ll be going through the process while your semester is in full swing… you don’t want to get carried away and fall behind!
- Be authentic, and be honest. That’s honestly the best interview tip I could give you. Just be yourself. If it’s a good fit, then perfect. But if not, it’s not the end of the world. Employers would rather have someone be honest with them and tell them “I don’t know” then seeing someone weaving a web of lies you’re definitely going to get stuck in later.
- Practice makes perfect. I don’t think I can ever repeat that enough. The secret to acing interviews? Doing more of them! Over time, you’ll find your groove and it’ll be easier. Would you believe that the internship that I got was my like 10th interview? I had barely even prepared, I wasn’t nervous at all, and I still crushed it! So don’t fret if your first few interviews go badly. It’ll get better!
- It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s so worth it! It’s no secret that you’ll have to put a lot of effort into landing your dream internship, but the experience you’ll gain from it is worth it! Even if you don’t end up getting the internship, you’ll still have gained interview experience!
What are your secrets to landing your dream internship? Do you have any questions regarding the process that you’d like answered? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them to the best of my abilities!