How to Find and Land an Internship: Advice From a Rising College Senior

Summer 2020 may have looked a little different for many college students, it certainly did for me. I spent a long 5 months during the school year preparing my resume, editing cover letters and doing endless LinkedIn searches to find the perfect summer internships. I spent long hours at career services at Syracuse University going to workshops and career fairs to prepare for what they say is the most important time to land an internship-the summer before you enter senior year. And, I had a great internship lined up.

Here are my tips for finding an internship this fall. (Twenty20 @verakharlamovaphotagraphy)

The cancellation of my internship taught me a lot

When I got the call that my summer internship at ABC News was cancelled, I felt that all my time preparing for interviews, researching companies and doing endless networking had been a waste. I felt defeated and lost all motivation to find an alternative summer plan.

In the end, the cancellation of that internship led to something even better, because it taught me about the best ways to seek future internships. And, a few weeks after the cancellation of my internship program, I had managed to secure 3 new summer internships that gave me real life professional experiences. I had also learned a lot of essential job-seeking skills.

With school beginning, many internship programs are once again starting the recruiting process for Fall and many of these companies will stay remote. As a college student who has gone through many rounds of recruitment for various different companies, specifically within news media organizations, I feel more confident navigating the career/job search process. I can lend some of my advice to those looking to land the perfect internship.

4 tips for looking for and finding a college internship

1. Network

When I first found myself with no summer plans, my immediate reaction was to turn to my network. Networking can sound intimidating, daunting and overwhelming and to be quite honest it is one of my least favorite things to do. But, take it from me, a fellow student, networking really works and it is a simple conversation and connection that will lead you one step closer to finding an internship.

Your network extends beyond just those professionals that you connect with on LinkedIn-some of the most important people in your network might be sitting right next to you right now, your friends and classmates.

One of my professors at Newhouse designed all of our projects to be done in a group and every time we had a new project, they would encourage us to find different classmates to pair up with in an effort to begin expanding our network. I had never thought about networking that way, and it really pushed me outside of my comfort zone to work and get to know new people.

I mention this because it was a classmate I met through a group project who introduced me to her friend who was looking for interns in May. My classmate reached out to me and connected me with this woman and I now do social media marketing for her.

I encourage you to network whether it’s sending a quick life update email to a professional you know, connecting with those on LinkedIn whose careers align with your dreams, or simply getting to know your classmates. I cannot stress this enough. Always circle back to your network because they are your own personal cheerleaders and want to help you.

2. Don’t overlook small opportunities

There is an immense amount of pressure to get a top internship at a multimillion dollar company. We live in a world fueled by competition and being placed on a college campus where everyone is applying to the same opportunities exacerbates the anxiety that comes with the internship process.

Many of us, including me, become focused on a name-brand internship and we only seek out the opportunities that millions of other kids are pursuing. Seeing the impact COVID-19 had on the job market combined with the cancelation of my internship, forced me to look at other smaller opportunities.

When an opportunity comes your way, big, small, paid or unpaid, it benefits you in the long run; if you didn’t like the experience, your job responsibilities or the culture of the company it’s still a win because it ultimately helps you figure out what you don’t want to do.

3. Be prepared

As internship applications begin to open, the best piece of advice I can give is pay attention to the details. Before applying to internships look up different companies you may be interested in working for and make an organized spreadsheet. This way, when internship season approaches, you already have some materials prepared to be proactive and apply early.

4. Apply early and beat the rush

Keep tabs on when applications open by following these companies on social media platforms because they will usually post when their applications open. By applying ahead of the deadline, you might get a faster interview and you will prove to a potential employer that you are really interested in the job.

Often when employers get too large a pool of applicants, they end up closing the submissions earlier than the intended deadline, so applying early has huge benefits. Along with keeping track of deadlines, it should go without saying, but follow all the directions- include a resume and/or cover letter if they ask, answer all the questions on the application, and from a personal experience if it says optional still do it!

From crafting your resume, to hitting submit, to landing an interview, the process can be very stressful, especially for the first time. However, it is a process that all college students can relate to, so don’t let one rejection defeat you because there are plenty of opportunities out there!

It’s a confusing and frustrating feeling when all your qualifications and experience line up with what a company is seeking in an intern, and then you get a rejection letter-trust me I have been there way too many times.

Keep a positive attitude and be persistent through the process because something will come your way.

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This College Student Landed Four Internships More tips from a college student on how to find an internship.

About Izzy Tabs

Izzy Tabs is a rising senior from North Caldwell, NJ studying Broadcast and Digital Journalism with a minor in Sport Management at Syracuse University. While on campus, Izzy is involved with many student media organizations such as her school’s student run television station Citrus TV and she is also an online editor and writer for the sports department at WAER Radio Station-an NPR affiliate. Izzy hopes to one day pursue a career in sports journalism and documentary filmmaking.

Read more posts by Izzy

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