Internships are some of the absolute best ways for you to accumulate experience in your desired field or industry both during and after college. Applying for internships is definitely a process and requires months of planning in order to figure out where to apply, how to apply, and when to apply. Here is an easy step by step checklist that will help you stay organized throughout all of the internship application stages.
Step 1: The first step of an internship search is research. You have to be able to find internship opportunities at places that you would be willing to work. For example, consider looking for internships in your desired cities. Take into account whether you are able to move to another city for a few months to complete an internship. Read through the internship position details that a company has laid out and decide if you would be a qualified applicant. Ask yourself whether you would be willing to take an unpaid internship, or if you would be open to an internship opportunity slightly outside of your comfort zone. When you find an internship that intrigues you, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Am I qualified for the internship?
- Is the internship paid?
- If the internship is not paid, can I financially support myself during the intern time frame?
- Would this be a potential company that I would consider working for in the future?
- Is this position in a city where I am willing to work?
- Am I confident enough that I can perform all of the tasks laid out for the position?
Step 2: Once you have identified you answers to these questions, you can more on to step number two. Now is when you actually decide which companies and internship position you want to apply for. Here are some ways to stay organized during this step.
- Decide which programs interest you.
- Make an excel spreadsheet or use some sort of organization process in order to list all of the internships that you are applying for, the due dates of the applications, any contacts that you have there, the position titles, the cities, and anything else that you want.
Step 3: Next, now you need to tailor your resume and your cover letter in order to apply for each different internship. DIfferent companies have different skills that they seek out in interns. Do your research and know what differences exist within these companies so that your resume and cover letter can be more personalized for each individual company. Here are a few questions to help you out.
- Does my resume highlight the skills and experience that I want to show this particular company?
- Have I made sure to double check that I have used the correct company’s name in my cover letter? (This is especially important if you are using a standard cover letter to apply to multiple positions).
Step 4: Now is when you can apply. Typically, you should be applying to internships about 4-6 months before the start date that you desire. Once you have identified all of the positions that you are interested in, apply, apply, apply. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Have I applied by the due date?
- Have I sent in all required materials (resume, cover letter, portfolio, anything else required)?
Step 5: Now, you wait. Make sure to check your email and application statuses on a regular basis. If a recruiter or employer thinks you many be a good fit for the position, they will reach out to you and set up an interview. There are usually multiple interviews involved in the hiring process of an intern so the first interview may be a phone call, skype call, or in person interview.
Step 6: Once you land an interview, make sure that you research the company that you have applied to. Dress appropriately (example: suit and tie, blazer and a business dress, etc.), and be yourself. Interviewers want to get a sense of your work ethic and your character, as well as your experience, so make sure to be personable and express your interest for the position.
Step 7: This last step may actually be the hardest. Accepting an offer can be extremely stressful, especially when there are multiple companies who want you. In order to figure out which internship you should take if you were offered multiple positions is, here are some guiding questions to help:
- Is this a position where I feel like I can grow?
- Did I connect with the culture of the company?
- What was my initial gut feeling after the interview with the hiring manager?
- Can I see myself continuing with the company past the internship position if they recruit me later on for a full time position?
- Will I be doing quality work that gives me experience?
- Which company initially stood out to me the most and made me the most excited?
The internship application process is a long one, but it is a process that can be extremely rewarding in the end if you play all of your cards correctly.