Want to know if a particular career path is a good fit for you? A fall internship could be the most effective way to get an answer. The best internships tend to have a lot of applicants, which means you have to stand out from the pack. Here’s how to increase your chances of landing the opportunity that’s creating buzz.
1. Start Early
Like any other project, applying for internships could take longer than expected. Companies can and often do make their final selections right up to a week before the start date. By that point, you want to be ready and waiting. Start exploring your options at least six months ahead of the season. This will give you plenty of time to research the companies and go through the interviewing process.
2. Network for More Opportunities
Do your friends or fellow students seem to have an “in” on internships you didn’t even know existed? It could be a result of their networking skills. Some organizations prefer not to advertise their internships, relying more on recommendations. You could open a whole host of opportunities just by keeping in touch with your professors. Let them know what you’re looking for and ask if they’d be willing to write you a letter of recommendation.
3. Be Clear About Your Goals
Although it may feel like more is always better, don’t apply for everything out there. As you browse the list of possibilities, look for choices that meet these criteria:
- A defined list of expectations you can understand
- Tasks that will help build skills you need for your career
- A company culture that values your contribution
It can be tempting to exaggerate your knowledge and experience on your resume, but be careful to present a realistic picture. It’s fine to apply for an internship you might not qualify for on your own merits. That’s better than landing a great opportunity based on misinformation, only to realize you’re in way over your head.
4. Objectively Look at Your Social Media Presence
When applying for an internship, you should expect every company to do a quick search for more information. In many cases, a student’s online presence is limited to their social media accounts. Check all your public profiles to see what people could find when they look for your name. Ask friends and family members for input.
Consider removing questionable content or making it private. Professionals aren’t expecting a completely business-related timeline, but they will respond better to posts that put you in a positive light. If you have a very common name, think about providing links to your profiles so they don’t stumble onto the wrong one.
5. Apply Promptly and Follow Up
Publicly advertised internships may have a specific application period that you need to follow. Companies don’t necessarily give you priority if you are the first to apply, but you can’t be late. As you wait for a response, keep in mind that there is a balance between no contact and too much. Give them about a week, then email to confirm that they received your application. If this information isn’t listed online, ask when you can expect to hear about interviews.
Landing a great fall internship requires a mix of charisma, networking and preparation. People who invest the time will reap the rewards. If you go into the internship process early with a clear set of goals, you’ll be more likely to hit the target.