This is a guest post from Dale, a recent college graduate, entrepreneur, and blogger writing about all things college life at Simplifying College.
Having an internship in college is a great way to boost your resume and get experience in your future career.
Summer internships are most common, although you may also be able to find an internship during the academic year as well.
Landing an internship can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible! I had four paid internships throughout college, and these are tips I followed to get them.
How to Get an Internship in College:
1. Take advantage of your university’s career resources.
Most universities have a career center with tons of resources available to students looking for internships. However, many students have no idea these resources even exist, and miss out on the advantages they can offer.
Here are some common career resources your university may offer:
- On-campus career fairs
- On-campus recruiting events
- Free one-on-one resume help
- Free mock interview prep
- Connections with alumni
I landed three of my four internships through my university’s career resources and connections.
2. Make the most of personal connections.
You might be surprised how many personal connections you have that can help you in your internship search; whether it’s connecting you with someone who works at the company or referring you for an internship position.
Some examples of people you know who may be able to connect you with an opportunity:
- Older students or alumni from clubs and organizations you’re a member of
- Family members and friends of family members
- Acquaintances such as neighbors or former teachers
Reach out to everyone you know and express that you’re looking for an internship. You never know how it might pay off! I found one of my college internships through a girl in my sorority whose company was looking for more interns.
3. Pay attention to deadlines and cast a wide net.
The summer internship recruiting season starts as early as the fall for many companies. (There’s also usually a spring recruiting season as well.)
To increase your chances of landing an internship, start planning early and note down application deadlines so you don’t miss applying to your dream job.
It’s also a good idea to cast a wide net when you apply for internships. I didn’t keep detailed records, but I probably applied for 20+ internships each season.
I did keep records when applying for full-time jobs before I graduated college, and out of 30 applications I got four interviews and one offer!
The more internships you apply for, the better your chances become of landing one.
4. Prepare scenarios for interview questions.
Almost every internship interview will contain behavioral interview questions.
You should familiarize yourself with more common behavioral questions so you know what to expect. But rather than rehearsing answers to specific questions, I recommend preparing a handful of scenarios you can discuss and apply to various different questions.
Think about times in your college life where you have shown leadership, teamwork, or some other skill. You can draw from experiences including:
- Previous work experience
- Campus organizations or clubs
- Volunteer work you’ve done
- Study abroad experience
- Group projects you’ve led in class
Once you have some scenarios in mind, it will be much easier to answer behavioral interview questions on the spot.
5. Use the STAR method for answering interview questions.
The STAR method is an easy shortcut you can follow to give amazing answers to behavioral interview questions. Here’s what it stands for:
You can use this model to answer just about any interview question. The great thing about following the STAR method is that it prevents you from rambling and helps you focus on answering the question in a clear and dynamic way.
6. Be professional following an interview.
There are two things I did after every interview in college.
First, if it was an in-person interview, I gave my interviewer one of my business cards. Yes, I had business cards as a college student!
The career prep class I took in college required everyone to get business cards made. It costs less than $20 to get a big set printed, and it’s a worthwhile investment.
Every time I handed my interviewer a business card, they were always really impressed. In fact, at one of my internships, I was told they ended up choosing me over other candidates because I was the only one with business cards and it stuck out to them.
The other thing I did was connect with my interviewer on LinkedIn within a couple hours of the interview. I would just send them a connection request with a brief message thanking them for their time during the interview.
Two simple things that can really leave a good impression!
7. Be You
As cliche as it sounds, you should always be yourself and be genuine during an interview. At the end of the day, your skills and qualifications are only half the part; people want to know whether or not they can actually work with you and if you’ll fit the culture at the company.
The only way to determine that is to be genuine and try to also throw in some fun facts about you to try to strike up a conversation with the recruiter to see if you have something in common.
It’ll help you stand out if they actually like you as a person in addition to having the skills needed for the position.
Getting Your Dream Internship in College
I hope these tips help you land your dream internship in college!
Remember, there are multiple summers during college (and you can always find fall and spring internships too) so don’t get too stressed about finding an internship.
Even if it doesn’t work out with an internship one summer, there are so many great summer jobs for college students that you can do instead.
Be persistent and don’t give up, and you will be able to land an amazing internship!