How to Stage a Summer Internship
By: Alex, UPromise Contributor
Its easy to think of June as being light years away. But for those of you who want to find a challenging and rewarding summer internship, don't wait a moment longer. Now is the perfect time to get to work on the application process. Here are a few tips that could help you maximize your chances for a great summer internship.
This rule might seem like common sense, but as members of generation procrastination, we tend to break it at every opportunity; start early. With our trusty Google search engines by our side, our generation has developed a reliance on last second information gathering. While that might work for writing a paper on 19th century philosophy, it doesn't give you time for a thorough internship search. With midterms and finals still several weeks away, January is an excellent time to make a list of where you want to apply, slick up your resume, and start writing cover letters (I know, I know, you have 5 months; but you'll be relieved come spring time!). Searching online job databases like Monster.com and Careerbuilder.com can be helpful, but also include companies and organizations that you want to work for, even if you can't find open positions. There are lots of internships that aren't advertised, and even if your top choices don't have any open positions, putting your resume on their radars can't hurt.
Resumes that Stand Out
When updating your resume, keep this in mind; you can't throw in everything but the kitchen sink. As most career services advisers will tell you, a resume is supposed to emphasize what makes you stand out in a clear and concise fashion. Hirers won't have time to look through dense layers of text about every single one of your accomplishments. Highlight your past experiences, skills and achievements that make you look the strongest for the specific position you're applying for. These things don't all have to be directly tied to the field in question, but they should highlight your greatest strengths as a prospective employee.
Connections, Connections, Connections
While some people get lucky and snag an awesome internship based solely on the merit of their application, don't just sit back and roll the dice on whether someone will notice you. It's debatable as to how big of a role patronage plays in our society, but it's a given that personal connections can do wonders. This is not to say that merit doesn't matter. But in order to maximize your internship possibilities, you can't just rely on applications alone. Get your resume into as many hands as possible. Whether it's family, friends, former employers, or professors at school, use every possible resource available to you. Ask them for advice on where to apply and who to talk to. I know several people who have gotten great internships by giving their resume to someone they know, who passed it on to others until it finally got into the hands of someone who could offer a position.
Alex is a senior at Northwestern University studying political science and journalism. In 2008 he wrote about and reported on the Obama-McCain presidential race for First Read, NBC’s political blog.