5 Tips for Finding a College Internship

how-to-find-an-internshipOne of the biggest challenges recent college graduates face on the job market is not having the required or preferred level of experience for the available jobs. You’ve probably seen something like this before, where a job is considered “Entry Level” but in the qualifications section it states “3 years of experience required.” This can be a really tough thing to conquer for those new to the market or a field.

For college grads, one way around this is to partner with your local staffing agency to have them help you find a role that makes sense, per your experience. The recruiter can often help get you interviews that you may not have been considered for had you just applied on your own. You can reach out to SITE Staffing here to learn more.

If you are still in college, though, one of the best ways to prime yourself for the post-grad job hunt is to obtain at least one internship while you are in college. No, this isn’t groundbreaking news or anything, but finding the right internship for you can make a huge difference as you launch your new career.

The problem? Internships are often even more competitive than full-time positions, as you have so many college students applying for a single role. So, here are 4 tips to help you find an internship, fast!

1) Start With Your Network

Many college students find internships directly through their network: asking professors if they have any connections, working for parents, applying for jobs at friends’ businesses, etc. This is often a great place to start because when a job is posted online, it will almost always attract a high volume of applications. So, if you are able to land an interview via a connection you have, you’re already one step further in this process than many of your peers.

If you don’t have a large or well-connected network (that’s perfectly OK, most college students don’t), do some research and learn about upcoming networking and/or professional events in your area that match with your major.

For example, say you are a marketing major in Milwaukee; you may find that there is an upcoming marketing conference in town that you would want to attend. Not only will you learn something, but you’d have the opportunity to speak with multiple professionals in the space you want to work. It’s a great way to get your name (and face) in front of people!

2) Leverage Online Tools

While going offline can be a beneficial approach to finding an internship, turning to the online job hunting tools available to you can be a huge win, if done right.

These tools include online job boards like BigShoesNetwork (for internships) or Indeed (for more general searches), and helpful career advice blogs like Hired HQ. Ideally, you should incorporate these websites into your daily routine, where you are always checking the latest job postings and helpful tips to make sure you are staying ahead of the game.

Take the SITE Staffing job board, for example — we update it every single day with new opportunities in the Milwaukee area. While most of our positions are not college internships (we do post some), this can still show you what to expect during your hunt.

3) Optimize Your Resume & Cover Letter

This is huge: without a fantastic resume and cover letter, landing a college internship is really difficult. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources and activities you can check out to make sure your application materials are top tier.

For example, consider your resume: not only does the resume need to have accurate information (and be completely typo-free), it needs to look awesome in order to stand out for the pack. In some cases, your resume should be simple or classic, like when applying for an internship within a more professional firm. Or, if the company is more creative or fun, going with a layout that is more engaging works great.

The idea here being that you need to map the look and feel of your resume to the type of company or industry you are hoping to gain an internship with. You can check out our massive library of 500+ resume templates from around the internet here.

Bonus: Always be sure to save your application materials (resume, cover letter) as PDFs before you submit them, not Word docs. This looks more professional and ensures the hiring manager can open and view the documents you include, regardless of their device or operating system.

4) Plan Your Timing

If you want a college internship for the fall semester, you’d better start searching for these opportunities a few months before. In many cases, a company with an official internship program will start posting their jobs anywhere from two to four months before the semester begins, in order to give enough time to fill the program and ensure the student (intern) has enough time to prep for their class schedule.

Once you graduate from college, the majority of positions that you apply for will begin pretty quickly once you accept the job offer (anywhere from a few days to a few weeks is normal), so it requires a little bit different of a mindset for college students looking for internship programs.

Next Steps

If you’re interested in learning more about the job hunt, and how to best prepare yourself for applications and interviews, check out some of our most popular resources below!