Get Creative in Your Internship Search

I can’t believe it’s already spring break and that March is almost over! Before you know it, spring semester classes will be finished and the summer will be here. This is probably not welcome news to those of you still struggling to find a summer internship.

If you aren’t finding opportunities that match your goals for an internship, it’s time to become more entrepreneurial in your search. Consider designing and pitching your own internship.

  1. Get your goals down on paper. What field are you trying to gain experience in? What do you hope to gain/learn from an internship? What kinds of daily tasks would you like to be involved with? Determine specific answers to these questions. If you need help defining tasks integral to the profession you’re trying to gain experience in, do some research by reading job postings or using resources such as the Occupational Outlook Handbook.
  2. Identify organizations in your geographic target area that could provide you the experience you’re seeking. Remember to think broadly. For example, you could find PR work at a PR firm, OR you could do this work for a small business or nonprofit organization. How do you figure out what organizations are out there? Use resources such as Chamber of Commerce websites, the phone book, and social media. Also, tap into your network to connect with potential organizations.
  3. Create an internship proposal. Make your proposal as specific as possible – it could be for a specific project of interest that would meet the organization’s needs or it could be for a specific role you know the organization is likely to have. Employer’s don’t have time for someone who will “do anything.” This is why the first step – determining your goals and tasks you wish to take on – is so important. Include the following items in your proposal:
    • A clear/concise description of what you are offering to do for the organization and why you think it will benefit them.
    • The specific project you want to work on or position you wish to fill.
    • Highlights of how you are the right person to do this work for the organization.
    • Your dates of availability and whether you are looking for full-time or part-time work.
    • A copy of your resume that illustrates your strengths and highlights the skills you possess.

When proposing an internship, be sure that you are connecting with the person who has the power to say yes. While an HR rep or department is a good place to start asking questions, they often do not have the power to hire you. Get referrals to managers or supervisors in the area you want to work.

I’m hearing of more and more students who are creating their own opportunities, and students who have done so have had amazing internship experiences. Yes, it takes a little more work, but the potential outcome is worth it. Finally, remember that you are not alone. Seek out assistance from Career & Leadership Development as you work through this process.

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Photo by BONGURI.

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