How to find and land an internship

A former intern helps you figure out how to score that amazing internship you’ve been looking for.

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So you’re looking for an internship? Let me help you find one.

As a college senior graduating in May, I now have four internships under my belt. I can tell you from experience that landing an internship is less intimidating than it sounds and having that opportunity is more rewarding than you may realize. These jobs have given me the ability to test the waters for different interests and narrow down what I want to do after graduation. Here are my tips on how you can find and land an internship and use it to your advantage.

Starting out: Know where to look

It’s easier than you think to find internships — you just have to put in the effort to try some different avenues.

  • Tap into your network. Talk to friends and family members about what interests you and find out where they work. If it will be your first time interning, it’s wise to start small — try to land a spot somewhere you have an established connection. Having limited experience makes it much harder to land big, competitive internships.
  • Ask your school. As you approach your junior and senior year of college, your program’s department may provide a list of internship opportunities. I found out about my internship through an email that was sent to everyone with my major. Your academic advisor or department head might also be a good resource to connect you with internship opportunities.
  • Go right to the source. Don’t solely rely on online job boards. Instead of sorting through cluttered websites, find companies in your region that you want to work for, and check the careers page on their website. If there’s a company you’re interested in but it doesn’t have internships advertised, consider reaching out to their Human Resources department. My first internship worked out this way: The company was not looking for an intern, but the staff was excited to hear that a student was willing to help out and created an opportunity just for me. These may not always be paid positions, but they’re great experience for your resume.

A personal website with a short biography, resume, examples of your work, and contact information not only looks professional, it also helps establish your personal brand and makes it easy for employers to get to know you beyond a name.


Applying: Make yourself stand out

There can be thousands of applicants for a single internship. I was turned down a few times. The best advice I have is to prepare an “above and beyond” application.

For most fields, every applicant should include some form of a digital portfolio. I highly recommend creating a personal website with a short biography, resume, examples of your work, and contact information. Not only does this look professional, it also helps establish your personal brand and makes it easy for employers to get to know you beyond a name. Show your individuality and highlight whatever sets you apart from other applicants.

It’s still important to send a cover letter, and keep your LinkedIn current and your social media clean. Something small yet easy to forget is to make sure there’s space in your voicemail inbox. I once missed a call from a job I’d applied to, and they weren’t able to leave a voicemail to set up an interview, which I found out much later.

An internship can be a great opportunity to learn more about a field you’re interested in or to make valuable contacts — hopefully these tips can help you land the opportunity you’re looking for.