College students have heard a million times how important internships are for career development, and how wise it is to start looking for internships in college rather than to wait until after graduation. This is repeated so often because it’s good advice – often, the best way to get acquainted with, and get a head start in, a career field is to see it first-hand.
Finding an internship opportunity, however, can be difficult, as they’re not often well advertised. Here are are a few tips you can use to help you find the internship of your dreams:
1) Decide what you want to learn.
Are you looking for exposure to a particular field? Are you looking to gain certain skills? Choose a priority and let that guide your search. This is important because you’ll probably encounter plenty of internship opportunities that you aren’t interested in. Don’t be tempted to take on uninteresting internships just for he sake of completing an internship; poorly chosen internships can turn out to simply be a waste of both your time and your host organization’s time.
2) Find out about internships in your field of interest.
Talk to university advisers, friends or classmates (or do research on your own) to get some information about whether organizations in your field of interest offer internships, what kinds of internships exist, and what qualifications you might need to be eligible for them.
3) Get help from your school.
Ask the career center at your university, which may have alumni networks, job placement programs, information about internship fairs, and other resources that can aid you in your search.
4) Check with local companies or organizations.
Are there any specific organizations you’ve considered pursuing a career with? Check their websites to see if they offer internship opportunities. Even if they don’t, it’s worth giving them a call or paying their office a visit to ask, as many internship opportunities aren’t posted online.
5) Utilize your personal network.
Do you know anyone in your field of interest? Ask them if they know of any open internship opportunities you might be eligible for. If so, see if you can get application information or an introduction to the internship coordinator. If not, see if your contact might know anyone else in the field who might know of potential open internship opportunities.
Don’t be disappointed if you can’t immediately obtain an internship position with a large or well-known organization. Internships in large or famous organizations are not necessarily more interesting, more enriching, or more respectable than other internships. Choose your internship based on whether you think you can learn or gain something worthwhile from it.
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Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.