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How to Nail Your Job or Internship Search

With so many opportunities out there, it can be overwhelming to know where to start your job or internship search. Never fear! Here are eight great steps to put yourself on the right track towards scoring that dream position.


What do you want to do? This question is the biggest and scariest of them all, so why not make it a little bit easier. Take some time to jot down any existing career interests you might have. Don’t worry–you’re not signing a contract committing to one of these jobs! But you have to start somewhere. Think about the types of skills you excel at and any tasks you enjoy. Maybe you hated your English class last semester but loved when you got to be creative for the final project. Maybe you LOVE doing research, or perhaps it makes you want to run for the hills. All of these likes and dislikes can help you find the position that makes sense for you, even if you don’t know what that is quite yet.

Talk It Out

Two heads are better than one! Find a friend, a family member, or an advisor who will listen to your current thoughts, even if you feel like they’re a total mess. Chances are they may have noticed something about you that makes you an excellent fit for a specific position. They’ll have suggestions you’ve never considered, or maybe talking it over will lead you to that great epiphany you’ve been waiting for. 


Time to see what’s out there! Looking at a job and internship posting site is a great place to start because you will find various positions all in one place. See which site your school uses (for those at Colgate, it’s Handshake). They’ll have the most relevant postings for your experience level, and some might connect back to alumni who specifically want to hire Colgate students. You can also try an external job site like LinkedIn or Indeed, or job boards specific to a particular employer. You can start by searching some of the skills and areas of interest you brainstormed before. Read the job descriptions and make a note of ones that sound like they could be a good fit. If you sense a theme with the postings you’re drawn to, use those job roles as search terms. You can also try searching for opportunities at companies and organizations you admire or search by location. Knowing what’s out there will bring you confidence during your search.

Use Your Resources

If you’re a college student, check out your school’s center for career services. It’s their job to help you make sense of this process. Why not take advantage of all they have to offer? Career advisors can help you revise your resume or discover areas of interest. Online resources can answer common questions, like formatting a cover letter or what business casual actually looks like. Allow them to help you! If you’re at Colgate, you can check out our Career Services office here. I may be biased as a student employee, but I can tell you that these staff members genuinely want you to find that perfect job or internship.

Keep it Organized

There are A LOT of great opportunities out there, and it’s easy to lose track of deadlines and important information in the shuffle. If you find a system to help you keep track of the details early on, you’ll be able to handle your search like a pro. A spreadsheet with job titles, deadlines, and application links is a great place to start, or maybe you prefer to keep it old school with pen and paper. Whatever you choose, make sure that it’s something that fits your unique needs.

Don’t Delay

After weeks of searching, you’ve finally found the opportunity of your dreams. Right industry, right town, dream company, amazing perks… and then, BAM! You’re all ready to apply, with a cover letter you spent all week preparing, but this dream job is gone, vanished, disappeared! You’re not the first to be burned like this. Often, recruiters post jobs and internships on a rolling basis, meaning that they are reading the applications as they get submitted and will take down the posting once they fill the position. Even if a posting lists a deadline, they may still put it down before that date if they have received a large volume of applicants. Moral of the story? When you find that internship posting that is PERFECT for you, go for it! It can be tempting to wait until that deadline arrives, but this may cost you the chance to apply.

Take a Chance

You may have heard this statistic: men, on average, apply for jobs that they are only 60% qualified for, while women only apply if they meet 100% of the qualifications. This so-called confidence gap means that you may be cutting yourself off from opportunities you could reasonably achieve. Some of the qualifications that employers list are essential to the work you’ll be doing, but others are wishlist items, especially for internships and entry-level jobs. Employers don’t expect you to be the perfect person they describe in the job description. If you are reasonably qualified and can explain why you would be a good fit, that’s often enough to make you an impressive candidate. If you’re unsure about applying to that one job that feels like a bit of a reach, go for it anyway! The worst thing they can do is say no.


It may be boring, but it’s worth it! Recruiters will probably review your application alongside a ton of other qualified and exceptional applicants. A resume or cover letter riddled with typos will make you stand out negatively. When most of the applicants would be great for the job, simple mistakes are an easy way to rule some of them out. Do yourself a favor and read over those documents one more time–you deserve the best possible chance!

Now, go off into the world of jobs and internships with confidence and a plan! You’re going to find the perfect fit.

Ariel is a junior Sociology major at Colgate University. She loves theatre, dance, writing, and talking about Colgate.
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