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A Collegiette’s Guide to the Summer Internship Search

Don’t let the chilly weather fool you: Summer is just around the corner. While some of you may be looking forward to a couple academic-free months and a stellar tan, others are getting ready for an amazing summer internship (hopefully!). And it’s time to get going on your applications! There’s so much to do, but where to get started?  As always, collegiettes, we’re here to help. Follow this step-by-step guide and you’ll be on your way to internship application success in no time!

STEP 1: Create a List of Possible Internships 

Searching for an internship is essentially impossible without knowing what you’re looking for. Start off this process by creating a list of companies you’d love to work for. Make sure to apply to a lot of different internship programs since most are extremely competitive. Casting a wide net—within desired industries, of course—will better your chances for snagging the one that’s perfect for you. Are some of you intern rookies totally lost when it comes to even finding an internship you’d like to apply for? We would never leave you hanging. Tracking down some dream internships is only a click away:

  • Internships.com: Welcome to the internship mecca, collegiettes! Not only does this website help you find internships that are perfect for your major, but they also help you be the best applicant you can be. A little clichéd? Well it’s true! When you upload your resume to the website, your new BFFs at Internships.com rate your resume based on content and format.
  • Ed2010: Magazine fanatics be warned: this website is addictive. Ed2010 is all about listing magazine internships for budding journalists. But what if an editorial career isn’t in your future? You can still check out the website!  Ed2010 has a bunch of articles about networking and how to score that sweet internship.
  • Intern Queen: When Lauren Berger, CEO of Intern Queen, was a collegiette at University of Central Florida, she had fifteen internships. Fifteen internships in four years? That’s beyond impressive. Thankfully, she didn’t let her internship experience go to waste. Instead, Lauren created Intern Queen, the one-stop site for finding fabulous internships. With an array of listed cities and industries, don’t be surprised if you find your dream internship here. Also, Lauren blogs about tips, tricks, and firsthand experience for your entertainment.  There’s only one thing to say to that: all hail the Queen!
  • CollegeRecruiter.com: Imagine a website that’s totally committed to finding college students internships. Well, you are no longer dreaming: CollegeRecruiter is your favorite new website. All you need to do is fill out your desired job title and the city you’d like to intern in, and CollegeRecruiter does the rest. Make sure to bookmark CollegeRecruiter because this website can help you find entry-level jobs once you graduate!
  • HC’s Careerette Section: Head over to our very own job and internship listing section on HC, where we post opportunities from all sorts of companies looking for stellar collegiettes like you to join their teams.

What if you’re looking for internship opportunities at a specific company? Most businesses have a Career page on their website. Who knew that surfing the web could be so productive? 

STEP 2: Research, Research, Research!

Now that your dream internship list is created, it’s time to research!  But what are you supposed to look for? Here are a couple of things to get the ball rolling:

  • Location
  • Housing accommodations (if necessary)
  • Paid versus unpaid
  • Application due dates
  • If the internship will give you college credit
  • Eligibility
  • Contact Information
  • Any other pre-requisites (GPA or major requirement, recommendations, etc.)

Just remember that every internship has different requirements. To prevent a serious mix-up, keep all of this information organized. Create a spreadsheet or Google Doc with all your research.  We promise that researching a ton and being organized will make this process less stressful.

STEP 3: Talk to a Campus Career Counselor

Although you’ve done all the research, you might be more confused than you were before. Can you apply to an internship for college credit? How should you cut down your resume? Lucky for you, your Campus Career Center has all the answers: it’s their job to help you snag sweet jobs and internships. “We are the ones with experience, connections, and relevant information to help students perform a successful search,” says Kelly Forde, a Career Service Coordinator at Boston University. “We spend so much of our day working with employers so we know specifically what they are looking for and what strategies will work with them.”  With all of their knowledge, they’ll definitely be able to help you out. Plus, your career advisor may have more internship suggestions! So call your Career Service Center and set up a meeting: a scheduled meeting will ensure a lot of one on one time. Don’t forget to bring your resume, cover letter drafts, and your research. The more your career counselor knows about your internship search, the more she will be able to help! 


STEP 4: Perfect (Or Create) Your Resume

Hopefully, you already have a working draft of your resume saved on your laptop. If that’s the case, then all you need to do is update your resume with your latest internships and extracurriculars. After a couple of quick edits, your resume will be ready for submission. Usually, a resume is only a page so nix your high school activities and focus on all of your collegiette accomplishments. Okay, so you now know what to put on a resume, but how do you format it? There are so many websites, like Instant Resume Templates, that help you build an awesome resume. For the future, update your resume every few months: that way, you won’t have to stress about it later.

STEP 5: Ask for Recommendations 

Now that you’ve taken a good look at your resume, it’s time to ask people for recommendations. Start writing a list of your former bosses who you know will say that you’re hardworking, brilliant, passionate, awesome… you get the picture, right? As for those bosses who cut back your work hours and fired you: cross them off your list immediately. Send your potential references a polite email about your summer internship search and ask if you can use them as a reference. If they’re as cool as you think they are, they’re bound to say yes. But what if you’ve never had a job before? Your college professors are a great alternative. Stop by your desired professors’ office hours and talk to them about your potential summer plans. Just make sure you participate in these professors’ classes: they can’t give you the raving review that you want if you’re just one of the two hundred people in a lecture hall! Last—but not least—don’t forget to collect all of their contact information, including phone numbers.

STEP 6: Master the Cover Letter

While your cover letter should be personalized, making a basic outline wouldn’t hurt. Remember to do your research: the more you know about a company, the more interested you’ll seem. Also, don’t be so humble in your cover letter. While modesty is a great quality, you really need to show your potential employers that you’rethe best person for this internship. Just make sure to keep your cover letter professional. Oh, and don’t forget to proofread: nothing says “don’t hire me” like an awkward typo!

STEP 7: Intern-Proof Your Facebook and Twitter
Former boy toys and catty high school frenemies aren’t the only ones who love to Facebook and Twitter stalk you: employers do too! Let’s be honest: nobody’s going to hire you if your latest scandals are on multiple social media sites. Bite the bullet and censor your Facebook and Twitter before you submit your application. You never know how employers narrow down their intern applicants. So take down those pictures of you doing keg stands and delete your tweets about your latest boy drama. Let your Facebook and Twitter reflect how you want your employers to see you: driven, professional, fun and smart.


STEP 8: Cross Your Fingers and Submit Your Applications

Okay, collegiettes: it’s the moment that you’ve been waiting for.  After all of this hard work, you’re finally submitting your application. While some internship programs require you to fill out a formal application online, others require a simple email with your awesome resume and cover letter attached. If you’re filling out an application: Make sure to read through each step carefully; you don’t want a silly mistake to ruin your chances of snagging your dream internship. But what are you supposed to do if you’re just sending an email? Just keep it short and sweet, like the following example:

To Whom It May Concern:
My name is (Your Name) and I’m interested in (Specific Company and Department)’s summer internship program. Please find my resume and cover letter attached to this email. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.
(Your Name)

After this step, the worst is officially over!

STEP 9: To Follow Up or to Not Follow Up?
Once you’ve submitted your applications, you’re just supposed to sit in your dorm room and hope for the best, right? Wrong! If you haven’t heard back after a while (at least a few weeks, assuming the application deadline has passed), following up is a good way to reaffirm your interest in the internship. How are you supposed to contact them? To not sound creepy, make this follow up clear and concise. Here’s a great example:

Dear (Insert Name of Employer),
I submitted my resume and cover letter for (Insert Name of Company)’s summer internship program on (Date you submitted) and wanted to confirm that you received my application.  Please let me know if you would like any additional information.  I am very excited about the possibility of internships at (Company) and I look forward to hearing from you.
(Your Name)

How many times should you send this? Remember, you want to show off your dedication, not come off like a stalker. To not seem desperate, keep it professional and check up sporadically: you definitely don’t want your potential employees issuing a restraining order. But beware, collegiettes: some companies will send confirmation letters that stress they will contact you if they’re interested in having you as an intern. If not, follow up away!

STEP 10: Prepping for the Interview

After you’ve impressed your potential employers with your professionalism and experience, it’s time to wow them with your interviewing skills. Don’t take this lightly: very few applicants usually are interviewed. Translation? You’re that much closer to getting your dream internship! With that in mind, you may start to get a little bit nervous. What if you have terrible answers? What if you freeze up? Don’t stress over it, collegiettes:  give yourself a pat on the back because you’ve gotten this far. Your prospective employers are interviewing you because they think you have the skills and experience to be a fabulous intern.  Asking questions is the perfect way to show employers that you’re really interested in the internship, but what are you supposed to ask? The company’s work environment or your possible tasks, for example, are great questions to ask. But what if you don’t have the luxury to have a face-to-face interview? No need to freak out! As long as you’re organized and find a quiet place to chat, you’ll rock a virtual interview. Last but not least, don’t forget to take a look at our 5 Tips for Acing an Internship Interview: those tips and tricks will have you go from mere interviewee to a front-runner for the position.

Congratulations: You’re officially done with the internship application process! The next step is to sit and wait to hear back from your potential employers. Though the world of internships is extremely unpredictable, don’t be at all surprised if you snag an awesome internship after following this step-by-step guide.  Good luck!

Kelsey is a senior at Boston University, studying Magazine Journalism  in the College of Communication. As a magazine junkie and fashion fanatic, she loves being a part of the Her Campus team! At BU, Kelsey is president of Ed2010 at Boston University.  She has interned for Time Out New York, Lucky, Anthropologie, and Marie Claire. Kelsey also has a fashion blog, The Trendologist, where she covers the latest trends, fashion shows, and red carpet reports. When she isn't busy, Kelsey loves hanging out with her friends and family, shopping, reading style blogs, going for a nice jog, listening to music, creating baked goods in the kitchen, watching movies, and eating tons of frozen yogurt and sushi! After graduation, Kelsey hopes to work as an editor for a fashion magazine. Follow Kelsey on Twitter and Instagram at @kmulvs and don't  forget to check out her "Catwalk to Campus" blog posts!