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How to Find a Summer Internship with No Experience

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at South Carolina chapter.

An internship can be useful to get hands-on experience, and it’s basically required if you want to find a job after graduation. It’s supposed to be a way to break in to your field, but these days, it seems like all the internships out there require previous internship experience. It can be a stressful process trying to land that summer gig when you don’t have much on your resume. If it feels like all your friends are interning at amazing companies and you’re going to be left walking dogs all summer, take a step back and a deep breath, and then follow this guide to land the internship of your dreams.

1. Go to the career fairs!

Grab yourself a blazer, 20 copies of your resume, and hand them out to everyone you meet! It can be intimidating at first, but it’s seriously so easy. Recruiters are eager to find an intern and all you have to do is have a short conversation with them to land an interview. Trust us, It really is the most effective way!

2. Ask your friends!

You know your friend with the internship in New York City this summer? Or your friend who landed a paid position with that really awesome company?  Ask them how they found out about these internships and for their advice on the whole process! They probably know about other opportunities you can apply for, too. Your friends are all going through the same struggle as you, so their advice will be really helpful. Sometimes they’ll also have connections in your field and that can be a great way to get your name noticed.

3. Meet with an internship advisor or check out the career center!

There are advisors at USC whose job description is literally to find you an internship. Have them review your resume and offer advice for applying and interviewing. The career center is also super helpful. They have a great website called Handshake that you can join and there are tons of opportunities listed. If you aren’t on there, you definitely should be! The career center also does mock interviews and resume critiques. 

4. Write an amazing cover letter!

If your resume is lacking, the cover letter is where you will shine. Some internships might say the cover letter is optional, but it isn’t… you should always write one! Stalk the company’s website to see why you would be a great fit and what you have to offer. Use words from the job description to describe yourself, too. Writing a great cover letter can make you stand out, and it can be the difference between landing an interview or not. If you’re a little worried about your writing skills, go to the career center and they’ll look it over for you.

5. Apply to EVERYTHING.

Unpaid internships are easier to land than paid ones and you get the same experience. If you want a paid internship later down the line, it can be super helpful to have that unpaid internship on your resume. It shows your dedication to learning and says a lot about how passionate and hard working you are. Many times non-profit organizations offer unpaid internships, so this might be a great place to start. Also, you’re going to have to apply to tons of positions to hear back from one. Internships are very competitive, so you need to be applying to as many as you can to increase your odds.

Remember to stay calm, work really hard, and don’t stress too much. Things will work out in the end if you put your mind to it. Good luck! 

Michala is a Public Relations major at the University of South Carolina.
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