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5 Proven Strategies for Finding a High-Quality College Internship

We are making our way through The Six Key College Experiences that Predict Future Success. So far, we have discussed:

We have two experiences to go, and today's is participating in an internship.

It's probably no surprise to anyone that having an internship is an important college experience. The benefits are numerous and well-known, including:

  • Getting experience (that can tell you if something IS or IS NOT what you want to pursue)

  • Networking

  • Possibility of being offered a full-time job at the company upon graduation

In my experience, it's less about convincing students they need to do an internship and more about teaching them how to search and find a quality internship.

Here are 5 tips on how to find a good internship in college:

  1. Know your goal - think about what you want to get out of an internship

    1. What skills do you want to grow or develop?

    2. What industries are you interested in?

  2. Talk to people - talk to everyone about what you're looking for

    1. Professors - of course

    2. Parents—yep, Mom and Dad may have a friend of a friend; I have a student who has lined up a summer internship she is super excited about. Mom's a doctor, and one of her patients is connected with the art history museum the student wanted to intern for.

    3. Upperclassmen - older students can tell you about internships they or their friends have done

  3. University career office and at larger schools, often your specific college (i.e. College of Engineering, College of Business) has its own career/internship office with opportunities just for students in that college

    1. Use databases available to search

    2. Attend career fairs - with a cover letter and resume on hand to give out

    3. Meet with a career counselor to discuss your specific internship goals

  4. Handshake and LinkedIn—these two platforms have become critical for college students looking for jobs and internships. Handshake is used by many colleges, and LinkedIn is where you can advertise yourself as looking for an opportunity and search for posted internships. I wrote a blog post back in December about using Handshake and LinkedIn for internship searching, so go check it out for more details.

  5. Prepare high-quality application materials - your cover letter and resume should look professional and showcase your skills related to that particular internship opportunity; your campus career office likely provides resources and assistance with this and may also help with mock interviews. Yours truly also offers assistance through my college success coaching with cover letters, resumes, mock interviews, and all things internship!

And BTW, while I've used the singular "participating in an internship," many students have multiple internships during college. Having two or three experiences gives you more experience and information that can only be helpful in your future career, so by all means, seek out more than one!


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