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How to Find the Perfect Internship for You

College is a great time to try new things and figure our what kind of career you want to pursue. Interning allows you to get first-hand experience in multiple fields of work. Exploring different career paths through internships looks great on your resume and it also helps you gain confidence in your decision to pursue your career of choice. If you’ve never had an internship before, finding one can seem like a daunting task. Here are some tips to help you secure the perfect internship for you!

reflect on your career goals

Before you start looking for an internship, it helps to know what you see yourself doing as a career in the future. Think about what kind of role you see yourself in ten years down the line. What kind of internship will help set you up for success in that field and what skills would it be useful to learn now in order to facilitate you getting a position like that? If you need help brainstorming, try taking a career aptitude test. Answering the questions forces you to think critically about the skills you have, and even if you don’t end up agreeing with the end result, it can at least serve as a starting point in your research. Another great way to determine potential career paths is to look at the university’s webpage for your major and department. Often times, there are career resources through your department that might be useful and they might even have a page dedicated to alumni and the careers they have chosen to pursue after graduating with your same major. LinkedIn is also a great resource to use when trying to brainstorm careers. You can search alumni on this platform or just scroll through the different jobs that exist in certain industries. Hopefully, through one of these avenues you’ll be able to narrow down a field of interest!

identify a few skills you have or want to learn

Internships are all about learning. Now that you have your career goal in mind, think about what skills you possess. Compare the skills that you already have to the skills you know you will need in your future career. Your goal should be to find an internship that will help you fill in those gaps and give you valuable experience in that field. For example, my first internship was oriented around research because I had strong writing skills and was interested in policy. Once I had sharpened my research skills through a marketing and business development internship, I decided I wanted to find a position that more closely aligned with policy work. Now, I have a research internship that focuses on policy and law. Spend some time brainstorming and think about what your version of this might look like!

Figure out the logistics of your desired internship

Now that you know what kind of role you are looking for, think about what that job might realistically look like. Are you looking for remote positions, local in-person internships or positions that require you to move for the summer? Are you hoping to work part-time or do you want a full-time job? Would you prefer an hourly rate or is a monthly stipend sufficient? Do you want to work for a large corporation or for a small start-up? Figure out what your answers to all of these questions are!

Begin the search

You’re finally reading to start looking for an internship. The first thing you want to do is pull up multiple job sites that you can use. Every company uses different websites to post their job openings, so don’t limit yourself by only searching on one website. When looking for my internships, I have used Indeed, Idealist, and LinkedIn to find positions I was interested in. I prefer to search for my internships using a keyword. Keep in mind that you might not find positions you’re interested in the first time that you search. I think I spent close to three weeks typing in “policy” into every single one of those websites on a daily basis. Read the descriptions of positions that seem interesting and apply if they seem like they would be a good fit. Start searching weeks and even months in advance of when you hope to start your internship and you should have plenty of time to find the perfect one for you!

Apply

Once you’ve found internships that interest you, it’s time to apply. If you haven’t already, college is the best time to perfect your resume and cover letter. There are tons of resources online that can help you polish these but here are some things to keep in mind:

Try to keep your resume to a single page and make sure your formatting is consistent. In your cover letter, be sure to talk about your career goals and how the internship could help you achieve them. Also, reference any classes you’ve taken or skills you have that make you a great fit for the internship.

Once you’ve sent your applications, the waiting game is tough. Stay diligent and you’ll be sure to find the perfect internship for you!

Hi, I'm Olivia! I'm a senior at the University of Pittsburgh pursuing a major in Neuroscience, minors in Spanish, Africana Studies, and Chemistry, and a certificate in Global Health! In my free time you can find me at the gym, listening to a podcast, or hanging out with my friends!
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