In the life of a college student, there comes a point when he needs to land an internship, go through an internship, learn from that internship, all while working for a real company to learn the nitty-gritty of professional life. However, summer internships for college students may be seen as just another obstacle to their freedom.
They do not want to know how to land an internship for they are not ready to face the real life just yet. They want to make the most of the freedom in their college life. The result: college students not taking their internship seriously and going through it like it is nothing.
Internships are not made to restrict the freedom of college students—they are an essential component to the life of every college student. It helps them grow towards their desired career. Thus, internships should be taken seriously. If you are actively looking how to get an internship, take a look at the steps below.
Reflect on what career you want to pursue
“Think before you act” goes a common saying. Before you begin to find available internships, and before you can land an internship, you have to consider that an internship is not just a short-time gig in the professional world.
It is one of the first steps in establishing your lifelong career. It enables you to get a feel of what your career will be like when your college days are over. This is something that you have to keep in mind as you undergo the process of deliberating which internship you want to go for.
Of course, your major is a factor in your deliberation process in pondering how to land an internship. However, there are other factors you have to keep in mind. Consider these questions for help:
- What profession do I want to have in the future?
- What skills do I need?
- What kind of experience should I have?
- Do I really want this profession?
The first three are more research-based. Searching the answers for these will allow you to know what it truly takes to establish your desired career and will concretize your plans beyond the abstract “I want to be a businessman,” for example. It will clarify the kind of internship that you want to go for.
The last one is more of a reflective point, and much more important than the first three. Your career will accompany you for the rest of your life. If you succeed in a career you never liked, you never succeeded at all—because there is no passion involved. Make sure that the career you are planning is the one you truly desire, and your internship will carve much of the path to that.
This is how it is when it comes to internships for college students. After graduating from college, they will face the full weight of the past career choices they make. Internships allow them to decide better for their career by letting them have a portion of that weight. It all starts with reflecting what they want in an earlier stage, when they still have enough time to prepare.
After reflecting, you have to make your resume.
Ready your resume
You have to put your best foot forward in this step. Your resume is almost always the first thing that companies look at when they want to know more about you. It is like their first impression of you in paper form—and first impressions last, lest you forget. While it does not bear as much weight in internship, it is definitely something that you have to practice rigorously for the time when you will be pursuing a fully-fledged paid job.
There are many ways to approach preparing your resume. For the college student who is looking to land an internship, there is an optimal way how to write a resume:
- Summary – a brief overview of your outstanding characteristics, showing your major and education, your best achievements thus far, and your personality. This is what your employer will look at first and will use to determine if the rest of your resume is worth looking at.
- Educational Attainments – your university should always be on top. The elementary school and high school you attended are not a priority, unless they are prestigious.
- Key Competencies – a list of highlights of your skills that are crucial and attractive to companies. It is a big plus since it highlights some aspects of your personality.
- Experience – it is okay if you do not have work experience prior to the internship. Omit this section if you do not. If you do, add this along with details of your work experience.
- Other Information – things such as “Awards” and “Workshops/Seminars Attended” may be added, but only if relevant.
One vital tip you should follow is to keep a consistent layout throughout your entire resume. It shows your inclination to being systematic and orderly. That is one of the top characteristics companies look for in potential employees—and it is not even explicitly stated in your resume! Make sure it is readable, too, to consider employers who have visual impairments. Use fonts that are respectable, not too in-your-face or too small. This might spell the difference between you getting in the company and your resume getting in the bin.
The most important of all, however, is that you do not put false information on your resume. It is easy for companies to gain access to information about you from your school or other sources, and you will be found out eventually if you do lie. It will even hurt your chances of getting an internship in other companies, especially if the company you first applied for is part of a bigger network.
Pick out a list of companies
Once you have made your resume, you have to search where to find internships. A simple Google search like “internships near me” can do the trick. If you want a more reliable tool, websites such as Indeed and LinkedIn can help a college student land an internship. You can also seek the advice of your family or friends.
It is tempting to choose just one company and think you will be in right away. Always remember, however, a few things:
- You are not the only one applying for an internship.
- You may not be chosen at all for reasons that the employer will not tell you.
This is a first taste of the professional world. The job market is populated and competitive. You will have to compete with other people who, like you, also searched how to find internships and prepared for the process. Sometimes, you will succeed. Other times, you will fail. Hence, it is best not to rest all hope on just one company. How to land an internship, considering this? The more internship choices you have, the better your chances are of getting one.
At the same time, do not just choose any company out there. There are some companies that have a toxic environment and will not help you grow at all. Do a considerable amount of research on competent companies. These are the kind that may challenge you, but more importantly it will help you grow.
Once you pick out a list, contact those companies regarding internship availability. There may be other requirements and steps, depending on the company. Most commonly, however, they will require you to send a resume. You can send it online, but going to the companies in person instead may help increase your chances of landing an interview invitation. It shows your drive and enthusiasm to land the internship.
Writing cover letters can also help. A cover letter is addressed to a particular company, talking about how you are well-suited to have a position in their company because you embody their vision and possess the skills they need. Send this along with the resume to boost your chances of landing an interview invitation.
Expect the companies to respond to you within a few days. Give it a week at best. If you receive a response about the company turning your application down, or if you do not receive any response at all, do not be discouraged. Look for more companies you can apply for an internship in.
Prepare for your interview
If you do get a response inviting you to an interview, it is time to prepare. Your first impression in paper form has done its part. Now, it is time to make your first impression in person—the climax of learning how to find summer internships for college students.
For many college students, this is the most daunting part of the process of getting an internship. You will be pitching yourself, convincing the employers why they should hire you. You might be relaxed in how it is somewhat similar to convincing your professor that your argument in your paper is sound—only this time, while the professor may help you in class, no one will come to your rescue in the interview. You will be expected to be at your best.
A good place to start preparing is figuring out what to wear. A saying goes, “Dress for the job you want.” Regardless of the interview, always wear a work-formal attire. You will not only show the employers that you should be taken sincerely; you will show yourself that you are determined to look the part. Psychologically, the way you dress can influence the way you talk and think. So, if you look at yourself in the mirror, wearing respectable clothing, you will more likely think and talk like a true professional.
The way you present yourself involves not only your clothes. In addition, your posture is definitely something they will notice. Chances are they will not take you seriously if you have bad posture. At the same time, being too stiff and upright will make you look like you are trying too hard to make an impression. Find that delicate balance between the two. It will look natural and attractive to employers as it shows that you mean business.
Of course, the most important part of the interview is the interview itself. Your charisma will be tested as they ask you a lot of questions—mostly about you, your skills, and your personality. Again, think of it as selling yourself as a valuable asset for the team. At the same time, however, be honest. Employers have screened a lot of job applicants before, so they can sense if you are sugar-coating yourself. At the same time, do not degrade yourself. Once again, find that delicate balance. Present both your best and worst qualities well—the latter one if you are asked.
Try to answer the questions as eloquently and confidently as you can. If you find yourself scrambling for words or for an answer to a question, take a few seconds to look away, to breathe deeply and slowly, and to think about the question. Of course, you should not take too long. Your eloquence and responsiveness is tested here.
Sometimes, they will ask you about how much you want to be compensated. An important tip here is to not be demanding—or seem demanding. You are applying for an internship, which indicates that you do not have much leverage on your part to negotiate to your favor. You should not expect much when it comes to your salary. Usually, internships are unpaid. If you are paid, you can give yourself a pat in the back.
By the end of the interview, the interviewer will tell you that “the company will contact you.” Most of the time, this is vague. There are times when they do contact you to give you the result of the interview. Other times, they will not contact you at all. You can contact them in about 5 days after the interview. If they still have not responded even then, they probably did not accept you. In this case, you should direct your focus to the other companies on your list.
When you are accepted by more than one company, it is time to go to the final step.
Choose the right company
If you have been accepted by only one company out of all of the ones you have applied for, it is all right. You can enter that company, since you have chosen that in the very beginning based on your judgment that it is competent and conducive to your growth.
If you have been accepted by more than one company, this might prove somewhat difficult. From your extensive research to find internships, you have concluded that these companies are great—that is why you chose them in the first place. You have to decide which one will give you the best growth out of all of them.
Your only lead at this point is from your interview. Consider the following:
- Work-life balance. Will this stress you out more than make you grow? Will this take away your time away from other parts of your life?
- Workload. Just enough to challenge you. There should not be too much that it will overwhelm and burn you out.
- Other factors. Is there an allowance or a salary? Are there other benefits from it that you might enjoy even after your internship, such as job security after graduating?
In the end, it is all up to you. Choose the right company that will give you the best growth. It will be worth it in the future.
For those who have not been accepted by any company at all, do not worry. This is also part of the process of getting an internship as much as it is in getting a job. Rejection is very much real; it is only a matter of how you respond to it. Look back through the previous steps and discover which aspect you came up short, then enhance it and repeat. You will be rewarded handsomely for your perseverance.
What internship is all about
Regardless of which part you are at in your internship process, always remember what the internship is about: it is not only a preview of what it is like in the professional world, but also a huge step towards your lifelong career in it. It will also help you grow as a person. Hence, summer internships for college students are meant to be approached with tact.
Learning how to get an internship might not be beneficial for you at face value, since you do not get paid much in an internship, if not at all. However, following these steps will definitely help you in the long run. Do not think of internship as another barrier that you have to overcome, but a stepping stone towards something better, such that once you graduate from college and go looking for a job, you are already equipped with substantial knowledge of what it will be like.
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