Now that your exams have ended, you’re in search of a summer job. While working at a McDonald’s outlet may have free food and insurance perks, seeking an internship is beneficial for your long-term goals. For those appearing for their finals the next year, this is essential as it not only makes your university application seem appealing but also adds valuable work experience after graduation. One may wonder why internships for students are important. Well, think of it as a crash course that you get to learn without paying anything. An internship in your desired choice of career helps you acquire both hard and soft skills. At the same time it teaches you how to interact with professionals in the working world.

While it does sound easy, it requires a bit of research to find the right internship for you. Looking for an internship is like shooting an arrow without an aim – you need to first plan and think about how to get one. Then think about how relevant it is to you, and how it would help you grow and develop your skills for your career.

#1 Settle down on a specific career goal or interest

This is the first step to take while looking for an internship. What type of internship do you want to take? Do you have your career goals set in place? What are your skills, values, hobbies, and interests? What are you good at?

Once you have these questions answered, you can go ahead and then look for those roles at the companies that provide these internships. Internships give you the platform to develop and hone these skills, thus giving you a jumpstart in your career. 

If you’re still undecided about your career or torn between multiple job roles, taking an internship is the best way to test the waters. It helps you gauge your interest and proficiency in a specific job, providing valuable insights.

If you can’t find out what you like to do, you can at least find out what you don’t like to do. It’s a win-win. But, it is helpful to intern somewhere before you start working. Check out this article where famous personalities began humbly as interns.

#2 Understand and analyze your skills concerning your interests

While researching for internships, evaluate the job role and how interested or invested you’d be in that role. Look for opportunities that meet your needs. If you want a paid internship and can’t get one, then look for part-time opportunities that pay reasonably.

Apart from that, look at the company’s goals and objectives, their expectations from you, and whether there’s scope for growth for interns. That being said, understand the difference between small and large companies, and that there are benefits to both establishments.

A large-scale company would have more specific tasks and instructions for interns. Whereas small-scale companies or start-ups offer ground-level training crucial for someone who wants to build their own company someday.

Make a choice but refrain from getting worried about being too specific or vague. Gaining experience in multiple fields only adds feathers to your cap, giving you a platter to choose from. Be it as a chartered accountant or a pastry chef, having relevant experience will help you realize your long-term goals. Click here and here to try out some free career aptitude tests in your free time. 

#3 Begin the search well in advance

Like any school project or exam that needs thorough preparation, don’t wait until the last minute to apply for internships. This would leave you with fewer options, a lower chance of being accepted, and also less time to evaluate and decide whether you’ve applied to the right field. And, it does not paint a very ambitious picture of yourself in the professional arena.

Internships are competitive as the best companies want the best recruits, so research and apply as soon as you know what you’d like to do. Some internship programs come with deadlines so have a lookout for details. If it’s a summer internship, for example, one should apply at least six months in advance, or whenever the applications are made open. Early applicants are spotted by employers first. Some sought-after companies even start their recruitment procedures a year or more before – so keep yourself updated all throughout.

Keep your research ready before school begins and the workload and studying kick in.

#4 Follow up with companies that you’d be interested in

Perhaps you’ve seen a company and developed an interest in your career because of that company. A global technology company like Google, for example, or the luxury Parisien fashion house Louis Vuitton, could be the dream destination for many high-schoolers who’ve set their mind to exploring their passions.

Make a list of all those companies that you’re interested in, and then look up their websites. You may find a careers page on most of them, and look for any specific section dedicated to internships. Bookmark them and set yourself reminders to follow up every weekend, so if there are new openings, you can apply as soon as possible.

Alternatively, if they don’t have any internship programs up on their website, you can directly email them with a suitable cover letter and resume. Express the reasons why you’d want to intern with them, making sure to highlight your enthusiasm behind the same.

Taking an initiative often impresses employers and expresses your dedication to the role.

#5 Take both the offline and online route

If you don’t have any specific companies in mind then expand your horizon a bit and keep an eye on all internships that fit your interests and skills. 

Many websites feature internships for college students. Websites like foundit (formerly Monster Jobs), Glassdoor, and Indeed not only provide opportunities for jobs but also for internships. Apart from these, there are internship-specific websites like Chegg, LinkedIn, InterJobs, Idealist, etc. that help you narrow down to potential workplaces that you’d be a great match for.

Taking the offline route, reach out to your friends, their parents, family members, school teachers, student counsellors and mentors. Make it known that you’re looking for an internship. If they have anything in mind or have internship positions at their own company, they can inform you about it and help you apply right in time. Having a known face at a senior level would ease things out at the time of job recommendations too.

Never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth.

…Apart from these, participating in career fairs and weighing your options in a wise and well-thought manner would make it relatively easier for you to gain some valuable work experience before graduation. Keep in mind that every experience will be unique and a learning experience for you, so if you can, try out a few internships before taking a big step into the workforce. It might be easier said than done, but also easily attainable with the correct search strategies – understand yourself, then the company, and prepare for the same. Have your resumes polished and neatened out for perusal, and the battle is half won already.

For further assistance and career counseling, you can always reach out to our career counselor, Sunita Sharma, so you can be on the right path to achieving your goals.