At my college, in the weeks nearing the summer months, all you hear are the students discussing their summer plans. As a freshman, I was intrigued by the older students talking about their internships at impressive places like Fortune 500 companies, and I decided to do some research on getting a summer internship for myself. I ended up successful, and here are some of the tips I learned throughout the process.
Don’t set your expectations too high
Before this summer began, I planned to get an internship at a highly-regarded marketing or advertising agency in Chicago. What I learned was that these companies usually prefer some kind of experience before they choose an intern. Even though I had marketing experience from several campus organizations, most agencies wanted previous internship experience and are targeted towards older students. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to find any internships that match your skill set; it just means that you might have to start at a smaller company to prepare yourself for a more intensive internship in the future.
Finding an Internship
I applied to many internships using every possible method. I began by using my college’s Career Services website, which I found to be incredibly helpful, with tips on writing first resumes and other advice. I didn’t find an internship that matched my skills there, so I moved on to sites like Internships.com and Internqueen.com and followed internship accounts on Twitter like @InternMatch.
The only problem with these methods was that most of the positions that interested me were not located in Chicago, which is where I wanted to stay my freshman year summer. Finally, I resorted to calling or emailing my resume to companies located near my hometown and asking if they were hiring interns.
This is where I finally ended up finding success, in marketing at a Children’s Museum, so don’t be afraid to take matters into your own hands! Around the same time, I was browsing my college’s Jobs and Internships Facebook page when someone posted an opportunity that interested me. After talking with her, I applied and ended up getting a paid job downtown in addition to my internship! Networking, even if just with your peers, can be an essential part of getting an internship. Ask sorority sisters, friends, professors, and anyone you can think of and ask if they know of any opportunities.
Prepare for Work
At some companies, it’s true that the stereotype of interns being assigned menial and difficult tasks is true. If this is true of your position, don’t be afraid to ask for a wider variety of duties. Prepare for a summer of hard work, even if your company has a laid-back atmosphere. I highly enjoyed my internship at the Children’s Museum because I took the initiative to ask my supervisor if I could help with anything she was working on.
Keep in Touch
Once you do finally land that coveted internship, make sure to put in hard work all summer, not just at the beginning. At the end of your internship, write your supervisor or anyone you connected to a hand-written thank you note thanking them for the opportunity to work with them. This helps to open up the doors for future opportunities and it could even land you a full-time job after graduation. Keeping in touch has proved successful for me; I was invited to be in contact next summer to return to my position.
If you follow these tips, you might end up getting an internship after freshman year and gaining an edge on your peers in the coming years! I wish you the best of luck in your internship search!
Kaitlyn Lannan is a sophomore at Northwestern University. She is majoring in economics and communication and plans on attending business school. Her dream job is becoming Chief Marketing Officer at a Fortune 500 company. You can find Kaitlyn on Twitter at @KaitlynLannan.