How to Prepare for an Internship
Although you might have missed the deadline to apply for a fall internship, it’s not too early to start thinking about snagging an internship for the spring. If you don’t have any experience, you can use this semester to beef up your resume so you’ll be a star candidate when applying.
In 2015 we’re blessed with the almighty search tool Google—use it. Look up companies that you’re interested in and find out everything you can about them. What types of internship programs do they offer? What qualities do they look for? What do current and past intern LinkedIn profiles look like? Follow the company’s or employees’ social media pages and don’t be scared to engage with them in a thoughtful manner. They might not engage back, but at least you will show an enthusiasm for the company and its work. By doing this, you can get a sense of the company’s brand and if it’s what you really want out of an internship.
Build up your experience without having to get a job
After you’ve researched the company and the types of internships it offers, you’ll know what skills to cultivate this semester. If it’s looking for leadership, you can join a student group you’re passionate about and consider running for a position on its executive board. If it wants someone tech-savvy, you can learn how to build your own website or app from a number of online resources like CodeAcademy.com. Are you looking at a social media internship? Find ways to create an engaged following on your social media accounts.
Reach out to your network
As a college student your network is definitely bigger than you think. Take advantage of your college’s career center and reach out to your professors about possible internships. Also, see if your college’s alumni work at your target companies. It doesn’t hurt to send alumni a thoughtful message expressing your interest in their company and requesting a quick phone chat or coffee date.
Starting research on companies and their internship programs that you’re interested in early will guarantee that you don’t miss any deadlines and you’ll have a good sense of what to expect. Cultivating your skills now, like creating your own professional web page, will make your more attractive than another candidate who scrambled last minute to create one. If you reach out to your network now versus later, you’ll develop more meaningful relationships than someone who is desperate around internship application season. With a little bit of effort this fall semester, you’ll be able to snag the internship of your dreams next spring.