1. Start your search early
If you want to set yourself up successfully to get a summer internship, start preparing in advance. For popular internships at large and reputable companies, it’s important to start your search 4 to 6 months out. Early applicants have an advantage in the hiring process since employers and recruiters are likely to notice them first. In addition, some internship positions have early deadlines, so starting your research and applying early ensures that you are taking advantage of all opportunities.
2. Research career industries based on your interests
Outline your career goals, and identify the types of industries, companies and roles you want to pursue. If you’re interested in a variety of fields and positions, focus your search by weighing the pros and cons for each. Once finished, target your search to the two or three most appealing options. During your search, use employment websites like Indeed and Glassdoor that posts both internships and jobs. These sites also allow you to see reviews where current and former employees express how they felt about their experiences working for a particular company.
3. Search job boards and investigate company websites/social profiles
Job listing sites are a great resource for beginning your internship search because companies use these sites to attract a wide variety of highly qualified candidates. You can conduct general searches based on your intended location and job title, then optimize your search by using the advanced search filters. Moreover, review the websites, social media channels and LinkedIn profiles of the companies you’re interested in to make sure you have a good understanding of the values, mission, and what they stand for, as well as the operations of the different departments and the responsibilities associated with the role you’re intending to apply for.
4. Leverage your professional network
As a student looking for an internship or a job, your network is your net worth. Networking can help you more effectively find new and even hidden opportunities. The people in your network may know of internships not publicly listed or those not listed yet. If you have contacts in the industries you’re applying for, consider contacting them and asking if they know of available opportunities and job openings. You can also consider asking your professors, academic advisors or your fellow classmates for more places to search for summer internships. It’s important to stay in close contact with everyone in your inner circle when you’re searching for a summer internship. Many times it’s the people who are closest to you who'll end up "knowing someone who knows someone" who just so happens to be looking for a summer intern.
5. Create an effective resume and visit the career center for support
A resume is the first impression that potential employers will have of you. Even if you don’t have much professional experience, there are ways to write a resume that highlights your qualifications for the internship. An ideal resume for a student can include relevant coursework, hobbies that give you transferable skills or personal traits that will aid you in your professional life. Furthermore, you can also visit your faculty’s career center for advice. By discussing your goals with an advisor from the career center, they can help direct you towards companies that currently need people with your unique skills and abilities. In addition, they can help you tailor your resume and hone your interview skills or elevator pitch for that specific company or job field.
6. Complete good quality applications and keep sending them
Instead of seeking out a summer internship on an occasional basis, begin treating your search as if it were an actual job. Start by establishing a regular work schedule during the week, then determine how many hours you will dedicate to look for opportunities and make a commitment to that schedule. This will help prepare you for the time when you actually do get an internship and have to start following a more organized schedule. Moreover, even if you’re not receiving responses, continue to send out applications. You could also consider revisiting your list of industries and begin looking for internships in fields you may have taken off your list. You should also take this opportunity to see if you can strengthen any elements of your resume. Most importantly, avoid making common mistakes like spelling and grammar errors on your resume and cover letter.
7. Connect and communicate with potential employer
If you have any questions or concerns about a job posting, consider contacting the hiring manager to ask them. Doing so can make a professional impression and allow you to decide whether the position will be a good fit for you. Asking thoughtful questions about a position can also demonstrate your dedication to obtaining an internship and being a vital contributor to the organization. Moreover, make sure to always do your homework and prepare before reaching out. For example, you can review the hiring manager’s LinkedIn profile and come up with a short list of questions to ask during a coffee chat. These should be specific, not questions that can be answered by a quick Google or Glassdoor search. Not: “What do you enjoy most about working at HSBC?” or “What does a securities lender do?” but “As I may have mentioned, I’m pursuing a degree in computer science but am excited by opportunities in business operations and finance, like the ones you mentioned in our chat the other day. What would be a good next step for me professionally?”
Getting a good summer internship requires planning and persistence. Though the process can be challenging, the experience that some internships provide will give you an excellent foundation to start a career in your industry of choice. Most important takeaway of all, stay positive. While facing rejection can be discouraging, you should never let this motivate you to give up on your search. Just keep a positive attitude, stick to the summer internship search strategy you’ve been mastering at throughout the process, and rest assured that eventually you’ll secure a position that’s right for you!