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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Virginia Tech chapter.

We all know that one of the main reasons for attending college is to find a full-time job … a job that is relevant to the industry we study, and meets our goals. How do we go from being a student, spending majority of our time in classes and finding time for activities, to being a full-time professional? This whole idea can be daunting — finding the correct career path, making connections, and finally, getting a position.

Internships are a great way for college-aged students to get some relevant experience and learn more about their interests, which is why scoring an internship can be a game-changer for any collegiette! These ideas will highlight the major steps and implications to consider when looking for summer internships this year.

1. Consider what you want

When your begin the internship search process, you must consider what exactly you are looking for in a job. A good start is to think about your interests, thinking of your dream career, and then stepping back and realizing what it will take to get there. I am certain you are aware of the schooling required because you are in the midst of completing that requirement, but sometimes it can be helpful to also see the career-side of making your way up the ladder. Search around in your industry and see what kind of internships can help you attain the final job you want. This information can be found online, through industry career websites, and also on LinkedIn. LinkedIn contains valuable resources and articles, as well as profiles of others you can browse. See where they came from to get to where they are!

Another aspect of a summer gig to consider is the location. You can remain in your hometown and live with family, move to a new city or go abroad for your position. This choice is completely up to you, based on what you feel comfortable with and can afford. Living at home for the summer can be beneficial because you save money on housing, and the company you work for won’t have to cover it either. Some companies that take on interns also are willing to give you a stipend for relocation, but not all companies do this. Many companies simply have advice and recommendations for student housing for the summer. Examine your situation and take some time to think about which option is best or you.

One last important factor that can influence an internship search is compensation. This topic can be touchy, due to issues of fairness with pay. There are three major types of compensation for temporary interns: paid, school credit and unpaid. The type of internships you search for, and the offer you ultimately accept, is completely up to you. If you would prefer to add-on credits to your transcript to help you move toward your dual degree, that’s your choice. If you don’t mind missing a paycheck for a part-time industry shadowing experience, and will also work another position to make money, that’s your choice. No matter what you are paid, and how you are paid, remember that your input and experience are valid — never sell yourself short.

2. Make a table to sort it out

When I seriously started looking into work and summer internships after my freshman year at Virginia Tech, I became overwhelmed. There were so many passions I had, and so many experiences I hoped to apply for. The best thing for me to do, and one of the biggest lifesavers for me, was creating a spreadsheet to track my job search progress.

Here’s how it works. Create a spreadsheet on Google Sheets, Microsoft Excel or another form of spreadsheet software. Then, create columns for topics relevant to your internship search. Here are mine:

  • Name of company

  • Company website

  • Website to apply for internship position

  • Supporting websites with additional information on the role and company

  • Your status (application submitted, waiting for roles, etc.)

  • Location of internship

  • Paid/credit/unpaid?

  • Application materials needed?

    • Resume

    • Cover letter

    • Work samples

    • Writing pieces

    • Anything else

  • Contact – for when you’ve made a connection within the company/industry

    • Explore career fairs and LinkedIn members/alumni

  • Application due date

Once I have made my table, I begin to search on career sites for relevant jobs. When I feel confident about my abilities matching up with a position, I add the position and the details to my table, and from there, make the most of the application process. With this table, you will be able to feel more relaxed and organized about your job search. Applying to internships can be a challenging process, so I aspire to make sure I submit the best application possible, while also staying sane.

3. Work on your application materials

Before you officially move forward with applying to a position, you will want to make sure your needed materials are ready to go! This way, you can put all your efforts forward at once, then hit “submit,” and take a deep breath. Here are some elements to remember:

  • Resume and Cover Letter

    • Use websites for ideas and critiques

    • Utilize Career Services at VT

    • Utilize the respective Career Resources from your program of study

    • Have friends/mentors/parents read over these materials

  • Gather your deliverables from experiences into one place

    • Make a website of your work samples

      • Websites can also help you market yourself more seamlessly throughout the internet, especially when connected to your LinkedIn or professional social media accounts!

    • Make a PDF file of your work samples

4. Create or update your LinkedIn

LinkedIn isn’t the best professional social media site for nothing — this site is meant for professionals to connect over industry talk, new job openings and values of life. If you don’t have an account yet, what are you waiting for? This site will help bring your career search to the next level. Here are some quick tips:

  • Use tips from the site itself — they give feedback on your profile and show you relevant job postings

  • Add connections — look out for your friends, colleagues, and professors you’ve gotten to know better through office hours

  • Reach out to members in your industry

    • Hokie alumni are smart, driven and kind — reach out to learn more about their journey!

    • Chat with fellow students about their career search and get valuable advice

    • Connecting with complete strangers can be unsettling; however, if you are polite and understanding, you could foster a great relationship

  • Read articles and engage — once you are connected to others, you will be able to read any content they write themselves or repost; tons of great information can be found here!

5. Apply to jobs

You are now ready to apply to apply to the positions you have researched and prepared for. Make sure you are paying attention to the deadlines for jobs because they will sneak up on you if you aren’t ready! Also, some required tasks, for example, writing a response to an application, will take a little extra time. You will want to write and revise these so that are perfect, and reflect your full capabilities as an individual.

Additionally, be sure to update the your own spreadsheet and records with your progress. I like to take down the date I applied to a position, to be sure that I submitted my application. This is also helpful to compare to the company’s website, to see their turnaround for decisions. One last thing to consider is your accessibility — you need to make sure that you are checking your email and answering your phone promptly! No job recruiter will wait to hear back when they have other qualified candidates to consider. Make no excuses, go forth and get your dream internship!

Image Sources: 1/2/3

Graphic by Kaitlyn Horinko

Kaitlyn Horinko

Virginia Tech '19

Kaitlyn can usually be found 15 minutes early to wherever she's going, with Starbucks in hand. She is passionate about social media and finding new ways to advocate for mental health, and enjoys making playlists, road trips, and writing in her free time.
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