It's Never Too Early To Think About Summer Internships
Many application deadlines come up before the end of the preceding year. Some rear their ugly heads in December, and for some desirable internships, you may have to apply pre-Thanksgiving turkey. Many high-profile government internships with security requirements have unusually early cutoffs. For example, the U.S Department of State's Student Intern Program accepts materials no later than November 1st. For internships at the CIA and FBI, the deadlines must come early to allow time for a background check, a polygraph test, security clearance, and other spy stuff. Very prestigious journalism internships often have early deadlines too, such as those run by the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. In general, according to internship experts, "The most prestigious companies, especially those that have internship programs that are long-running or limited in size, tend to settle early."
If you are applying for an internship that begins before next summer, you have to get on the ball even sooner. Applicants for off-season internships are encouraged to "apply an average of four months ahead." Since demand is lower than it is for the summer, companies' hiring practices "may be more flexible," but there are also fewer internships available during the spring, so don't dilly-dally. Doing a winter or spring internship can be particularly advantageous, since they often afford more room to get noticed (and may be less competitive). If you prove yourself to be indispensable, the company may be able to keep you on for longer than would be the case in the summer.
So in between late-night study sessions and investigations of local nightlife facilities, think about internships. Research potential internships, start writing your applications, nag your professors for recommendations. If you're graduating mid-year or want to take some time off, look into companies that offer year-round internships, or contact other companies to see if they're flexible enough to take you off-season. If you play your cards right, who knows? You could wind up as the second intern to appear on the cover of Newsweek.