Internships are a fantastic way to gain work experience in industries that you’re interested in. Because the academic school year is often packed with studying and extracurriculars, summer is a great time to explore areas of interest away from the classroom setting.
notes that there are 1.5 million internships available in the United States every year while also mentioning the contentious debate of unpaid versus paid internships. Even with that in mind, it’s really ideal for students to pursue either type of internship because the main goal, at the end of the day, is to gain experience in career choices that they are exploring.
Searching for internships can be overwhelming because there are a multitude of options. The best place to start is around your university because networking with faculty and attending interviews is much easier. For a comfortable starting point, attend one of your professor’s office hours and ask about internship opportunities they may know of or if they themselves are looking for help with their research. This advice is especially applicable if you’re aware of your professor’s research specialty and are also interested in it; for example, most biology professors tend to conduct research on-campus while they are teaching as they advance their degrees or seek tenure. Even if a professor does not currently have space in their lab, professors are usually aware of what their colleagues are working on, so it’s likely that they can provide you contact information for other opportunities.
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University job boards can be an ideal starting point for an internship search because these positions are often located on campus. This means that interviews will also be easily accessible because it’s likely that they will be located at that office space or at a nearby place. Browse through the student and local newspapers, read billboards in academic buildings, and look over your university’s online job board. These postings tend to be concise but do include contact information, typically for the head person accepting applications. If you aren’t sure about what an internship entails, contact this person, express your interest, and ask for additional information. The more information you have and the more curious you sound about a position, the more likely it is that you will be seen as an interested candidate. This is great for when you finally turn in an application for the internship because their familiarity with you will act in your favor!
Starting your search by focusing on the university area is ideal because it’s often easier to secure summer housing once students clear out for the year too. Students who decide to return home for the season often sublet apartments cheaply, and some universities also offer summer housing at a discounted rate because there are less students on campus. If your home is close to campus, you can even save money by traveling between the university-based internship and your house. Essentially, looking for summer internships at the place where you already study is a great choice because it’s often an economical choice and opportunities are easily accessible.
If you’re interested in summer internships that aren’t located on campus, it’s best to start your online search in the winter months. Companies have a high tendency to post job descriptions early so there’s an adequate amount of time for applicants to collate their unofficial transcripts, letters of recommendation, resume, and cover letter. In comparison, universities begin advertising available summer internships in their winter semesters but continue releasing positions until mid-April.
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Applying for summer internships that are located in your home state or even across the United States is often a competitive process. Your application will be initially read, more often than not, by an online vetting system that reviews your application for “keywords” or “buzzwords” that match the internship’s job description. The best way to ensure that your application makes it past this first stage of review is by using words from the description in your resume and perhaps even your cover letter. For example, if a position’s description mentions that the company is looking for a candidate who is an expert in Microsoft Office programs, write under the “Skills” part of your resume that you often work with these programs (e.g. Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel). The vetting system should pick up on these “keywords” and check off that you, as a candidate, have expressed familiarity with an important component of the internship.
The summer internship search can be tedious, but it’s worth doing because internships are extremely useful for gaining experience in fields of interest. Students should not feel discouraged if they find themselves applying to multiple internships for weeks and months; in fact, they ought to feel proud for persevering and remaining optimistic! With 1.5 million internships available every year, start your search at your university and branch out to find the most ideal position for you.