8 Steps for Getting an Internship

by Alan J. McMillan | March 29, 2016

  • My Vault

You are in college, you want an internship for this summer, and you do not yet have anything firmly lined up. So what should you do? 

1. Keep Prospecting: Until you have an offer in writing, you must keep prospecting. Verbal conversations that say 'we are going to offer you a role,' or 'we are working on it,'don’t count and are NOT binding. You only have one, 'this summer.' Keep hunting until you have a solid offer.

2. Stay Organized: Job (or intern) searches have a lot of contacts, follow-ups and next actions in play simultaneously. You need a centralized document that you can use to stay focused and make sure nothing falls through the cracks. You can make your own or, as I suggest, use a tool like LearnEarnRetire's Job Search Radar

3. Where There Was Interest: OK, you spoke to a recruiter or hiring manager at a company and you felt great. You thought they were interested, and you would have accepted if offered but they went silent. So what now?

Continue to go after them. Let them know you are talking to others but have them on the top of your list (if you do). People who hire are very busy and sometimes they too drop the ball. Further, they are speaking to multiple candidates but only have X number of internships. Stay visible and attempt to connect (leave voicemail or email a couple of times a week). If you follow up professionally, it will increase the impression that you are the kind of professional they want to employ. But, again, keep seeking other offers if they have not solidified one with you.

4. Go to the Career Center for Guidance: Brainstorming with a qualified professional can help if you are stalled or trying to better the hand before you. The Career Center can help in two ways: they know companies that might be a fit for you and are hiring; and
they can help with both your search and the skills you employ.

5. Follow-Up With the Recruiters You Have Met: During your search, if you have done it right, you have amassed contacts that have become a part of your network. Follow up and engage with them. They may have not had an available role when you last spoke, but maybe a candidate they were pursuing just dropped out. Or they might know of another recruiter that could use you.

6. Review People in Your Network and Seek Assistance: Make sure you are leveraging all you know that can. Your list should include: 

  • Professors
  • Advisors
  • Friends who are looking or have secured an internship for the summer (they might have taken one but have another two that they would have taken if they didn’t get the one they just accepted. The best technique here if for them to introduce you)
  • Friends and family
  • Former employers

7. See if There Are Any More Career Fairs on Campus (for both students and alumni): There are generally more recruiting functions than just the semester's Career Fair. Often colleges within the university have their own.

8. Reach Out to a Mentor to Game Plan: If you’re stuck, reach out to a mentor and try to kick around some ideas, then implement that advice.

What you cannot do is nothing. You have to continue to apply yourself and not give up. Internships are the stepping-stones to multiple offers.

Final note: it is not just about scoring an internship, it is about nailing that internship. When you do secure one, know it is a 60 day job interview and you want to nail it. Nailing it begins right now, prior to showing up. Here is a four step process in order to do just that.


Good luck.

A version of this post previously appeared on LearnEarnRetire.com

Filed Under: Interviewing | Job Search | Networking

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