Start early. The best internships will go fast, and there's a lot of competition. Once you know what you want to do, start looking for opportunities.
Talk to your professors. Faculty may be members of professional organizations and are likely to know area leaders in your field. Show your professors that you're a motivated, involved student. Then ask if they know of any available internships or leads.
Participate in informational interviews. An informal meeting with a corporate representative gives you the chance to learn about the company and the industry you're interested in. You can also share your availability as an intern. You may also be able to talk to employees, managers and others in your field and gain some valuable contacts.
Take the time to network. Attend department, alumni and organization functions; then actually talk to the professionals there. (Don't worry; most professionals remember being in college and are willing to spend a few minutes in casual conversation.) Your networking skills will be invaluable to you during your internship and job searches.
Be prepared. Once you find a place you'd like to intern, make sure your transcripts, a portfolio of your work, resume and letters of recommendation are ready.
Write an inquiry letter. Outline your interest in the company, your background and your desire to intern. Demonstrate your knowledge of the organization and the industry by commenting on recent company projects or media coverage. Suggest ways your background and skills could be beneficial to the company. Include your resume and current contact information.
Do more. Because so many college students are vying for internships, don't just apply. Be noticed by doing more.
- Work with your career placement office to develop an outstanding resume.
- Participate in as many mock-interviews as possible.
- Research the company and industry ahead of time.
- Follow up your application with a phone call, e-mail, letter or visit to show your interest.
- Thank an interviewer by sending a letter of appreciation afterward.
- Clearly let any employers outside your area know if you're willing to relocate if they make you an offer.