Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

The Undergrad’s Guide to Internship Season

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at ODU chapter.

It’s finally feeling like spring and we’re at the homestretch of the semester. But while some may be locked in on the March Madness showdown, another more important season is coming to an end: The summer internship application period. That’s right, while we were fighting that wintertime sadness, those internships were getting snatched up by your peers left and right! But as the flowers begin to bloom, so do our opportunities for professional growth. As someone who has had six internships over my four years of college, I’m here to give some big sisterly advice. For the girls who also stress non-stop about their future and careers, here’s a guide to securing an internship!

Why Do I Need An Internship

There’s a reason internship season is seriously competitive: An internship is arguably the best aid in finding a job after college. These career opportunities can come through job offers following an internship or they can be put on a resume to show real-world experience before you’ve even graduated (and it seems employers want 10 years of experience and your first-born for entry-level jobs nowadays). It also serves as a peek into the career world that you will soon join, allowing you to determine if that is something you truly want to do. These experiences provide you with skills hard to learn in a classroom such as communication, professional development and certain skills relevant to your major. Lastly, internships are a chance to connect and network with industry professionals, which may help you down the road. For example, my current internship is a result of a recommendation from a supervisor from an internship I had a year prior. Internships are the career advancement before the start of the career!

Internship Basics

You may have wondered how I have had six internships over the course of four years as they could not have all been during the summer, and that would be correct. Internships are not one size fits all. Various types of internships take place at all times throughout the year and their formats can vary. The key aspects of an internship you should consider are below:

Full-Time Internships: The most common period for a full-time internship is during the summer when most students are out of class. This is why it’s also the most competitive; nearly all students are available to apply for one. A typical full-time internship in the United States is 40 hours a week. 

Part-Time Internships: Part-time internships often take place during the fall and spring semesters when most students are also enrolled in classes. As such, many students do not have the time to work a full workweek and instead work limited hours. These hours are dependent on the needs of the organization and can really range from 1 hour to anything under full-time. Personally, I’ve seen 20 hours listed the most as the weekly requirement.

Study Abroad Internships: One of my personal favorites, a study abroad internship consists of going to another country to either intern, study or both at the same time. These internships are on the pricier side, as they may potentially be unpaid as well as the expense of a study abroad program. If this is of interest to you, study abroad organizations such as CIEE, ISEP, SIT and ISA may be for you!

Paid vs Unpaid Internships: Unfortunately, many internships are unpaid – 47% of them as of 2022. Unpaid internships may only be possible to those who can afford to work for free, or those willing to take on an arduous amount of work and extra hours on top of their other job. Pay varies greatly depending on the company, industry and required skills. While internships may not always list the pay grade, most will list if they are unpaid. 

Remote, In-Person, Hybrid: These distinctions are important in determining where you will work. The traditional in-person internship takes place at the physical location of the company while remote takes place entirely online. They may send equipment for remote internships or require you to have your own. Hybrid internships take place with some days in the office and some days remote, a format growing in popularity.

Co-Op: A co-op, for cooperative education, is similar to a full-time internship in that you work for a company to gain experience, but they are for longer durations and students often alternate between semesters and working full-time with the company. Co-ops often prolong graduation, but are great for building strong connections to a company and gaining more industry experience.

Resumes & Cover Letters & LinkedIn, Oh My!

Your resume is the heart of your internship application, but building one may seem harder than open-heart surgery. Because formats differ based on the industry you are in, searching for templates online is a great starting point. Cover letters are introductions and explanations of why you are a good candidate for a job and will mostly come into play once you start applying to internships, but the skeleton of it should come after your resume. LinkedIn has become an increasingly important tool for networking and job-searching, many applications ask for a link to your LinkedIn, so updating your profile is essential. Here are more tips on resumes, cover letters and LinkedIn:


  • For most non-design-focused careers, when in doubt, choose a black-and-white resume template that’s easy to read. 
  • Include your contact information and link to your LinkedIn profile on the resume.
  • If you don’t have too much work experience, include relevant coursework and activities, and detail what you did and how you utilized specific skills.
  • Try using Google’s XYZ method to improve your resume.
  • Use bullet points and do not write in paragraphs.
  • Proofread your resume multiple times.

Cover Letter

  • Write a template cover letter that introduces yourself and explains how your academic and past experiences have taught you different things.
  • Do not regurgitate your resume onto your cover letter, but expand on how those different points have facilitated your growth and what you’ve learned from those experiences.
  • Update your resume and cover letter with each application – keep a master copy of your resume and cover letter template, but look at the keywords and skills in the listing and try to include those in your resume and cover letter where applicable. 
  • Include the name of the company in the cover letter and show that you’ve done research into their company as you answer why you want to work there. 
  • Always proofread.


  • Complete your profile – every aspect of the profile that can be filled out should be.
  • Customize your profile URL so it is easier to find and read when you link it somewhere.
  • Have a strong headline. This and your photo is your first impression on LinkedIn and it should be engaging and descriptive.
  • If you don’t have a headshot, try and use the most professional picture you have of yourself. It should be a portrait, not a full body, and one should avoid selfies if possible. Personally, I put on a collared shirt and makeup, found a nice background and had my friend take a photo on her iPhone as a free alternative. Make it a fun photoshoot with your friends!
  • USE YOUR CAMPUS RESOURCES – Many universities offer career development services that help students prepare for every step of this process. Visit their office or an advisor or professor in your major willing to help you prepare and give feedback. 

Applying for the Internship

Now you know what internship you’re looking for and you’ve got your resume ready, now it’s time to apply! Part-time internships typically start at the beginning of each fall and spring semester, such one should expect to look out for job postings two to four months before the semester starts. For summer internships, the start date to work is typically in May or June, but internship postings can start as early as a year before! You’ll see many summer internships start to be posted in late December to February – the start of internship season. The earlier you apply the better, but keep a lookout for later postings in March and April.

While a simple Google search can provide you with a list of internships, many internships are posted on job board sites such as LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor and Handshake among others. But don’t limit yourself to the World Wide Web! Network with your friends and see if anyone has parents who work in your desired industry; see if they are open to taking your resume or if their company is offering any internships. Ask your professors if they have or know of any opportunities that they believe you would be a good fit for (that’s how I got one of my internships!). 

As stated previously, once it’s time to apply for a particular internship, you should update your resume and cover letter with keywords and skills from the job listing and then simply hit apply! Some sites will make you create an account, others will make you re-enter your resume and cover letter into the form, and others are quick and easy. In the United States, these applications will end with a voluntary disclosure form that allows you to identify your race, sex, veteran status and disability status; if you do not wish to disclose you can select that option on the application. Then, review your answers and hit submit.

And just like that you have officially become a star player of internship season. Similar to March Madness, you win some and you lose some, and rejection can be a difficult thing to deal with. But, every closed door is a new opportunity to grow, and if you keep pushing forward, you’ll find the experience that’s best for you!

Hey hey! I'm Faith and I'm the managing editor of ODU Hercampus! Here to put my passions to paper (or screen) :)