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Finding your ideal internship can be a lot like hunting snipe – you end up chasing your own tail looking for something that just isn’t there.
Of course, if the ideal internship is out there and available, then you want to be in a position to do everything you can to get it.
Working toward your dream internship can be broken down into two parts: finding it and getting it. The five tips below articulate a comprehensive look at how to accomplish both tasks and land the perfect learning opportunity.
(Long) before you start looking …
1. Be a Doer and a Joiner
The biggest mistake you can make is to be too cool for school – and all it has to offer. Start early and start strong, and never let up. Study like every grade is the key to getting that golden internship opportunity because there’s a good chance that it will be.
But, don’t stop at studying and getting good grades. Network with classmates and get to know your professors. This isn’t high school and your profs aren’t your enemies. Establish relationships with people of fine repute, whether they are faculty members, business leaders, politicos, or club presidents because these are the people who are going to write you the recommendations to be discussed later.
Once you start looking …
2. Broaden Your Search
You’re likely going to find right out of the gate that looking for a great internship can be disheartening. Buck up. The best things in life never come easy, and when it comes to jobs these days – even ones that pay only in experience – that goes double.Working toward your dream internship can be broken down into two parts: finding it and getting it. The five tips below articulate a comprehensive look at how to accomplish both tasks and land the perfect learning opportunity.Click To Tweet
Don’t limit yourself to one geographic location or even one subset of your chosen career field unless absolutely necessary. The great thing about internships is that the best ones will always lead to good future contacts and a broader understanding of what it is you’ll be doing when you finally enter the job market.
3. Ask EVERYONE
You’d be surprised how easy it is to pigeonhole yourself. Try to avoid it. You are never going to know who’s going to have the magical connection. Obviously, you’re going to want to start your search in core areas: professors, alumni groups/contacts, workshops, conventions, and industry leads in your chosen field, but don’t let it box you in.
Don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family. Everyone looks down on nepotism until it works in their favor. Be aggressive and set aside stereotypes and assumptions. Use social media like Facebook and Twitter to let people know you’re on the hunt. Join social clubs and don’t turn down chances to engage people in social settings. Remember that party you thought sounded lame? Think again.
Now, once you’ve found that internship …
4. The Letter of Recommendation
It is only the rarest of “ideal” internships that is acquired without a glowing letter of recommendation. Businesses looking for new talent are not interested in buying a pig in a poke. They want guarantees from people they trust, and rightly so.
The second part of this is not being afraid to ask for that letter of recommendation. Don’t make assumptions regarding whether you will be turned down – just ask. It never hurts to ask and people who write these types of letters know that. They also know what it’s like to be in your position, and if you’re an upstanding person you’ll likely be surprised at how many people will be willing to give you a hand.
5. The Interview
Once you finally snag a shot at an interview, don’t blow it off. Don’t wing it. Ask your friends to help you prepare by setting up mock interviews and surprising you with tough questions. Your goal is to be in a place mentally where you have an answer before your interviewer even finishes asking the question.
Dress like you mean business and show up on time with a smile and firm handshake. Sit up in your chair and have support materials at the ready. Be honest and polite, and speak naturally. Don’t worry about being nervous – that’s normal.
Finally, and this is more important than many people realize – research the internship and the company thoroughly. When they ask you if you have any questions (and they will), show them you’ve thought about the job by being insightful and engaging.