At least 91% of companies have a preference for hiring college graduates who already have work experience. And about half of those employers want that experience to come from an internship.
In other words, getting good grades and a college degree isn’t enough anymore. To get a great job after college, you also need career experience through an internship.
How do you get an internship, you ask?
Luckily, the process isn’t as mysterious as you might think. Read on to learn how to get an internship, whether as a college student or otherwise.
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Related Read: Internships 101: Everything You Should Know About Internship Programs
Here are a few easy steps for how to get an internship:
1. Understand Where You Stand
Before you can search for an internship, you need to decide what industry you want to try out or what skills you’d like to learn.
Think about why you chose your major. What kind of career path were you planning to follow? Do you still have the same interests?
Once you choose an industry to try, you can learn how to get internships in that particular field. For example, book publishing and environmental science internships will have very different requirements.
Related Read: What is an Internship? Your Basic Questions Answered on Intern Programs
You can also research what career fields people with your major go into. If you’re a biology major, search online for jobs for biology majors. If their career paths sound appealing to you, look for related internships.
If you’re still not sure what type of internship is best for you, think about your past work and academic experience. What skills or projects are you most proud of? What do you want to learn more about?
Read Further: 21+ Internship Quotes: The Best Quotes About Interns
2. Know Where to Look for Internships
Once you’ve decided what type of industry and experience you want to try out, you can start looking for employers who want interns. Luckily, there are lots of opportunities if you know where to look.
The easiest places to look for opportunities are online job sites. Websites like Indeed, Glassdoor, and Monster always have listings for internships, but these job listings come with tons of competition. This may be the easiest method, but it’s not necessarily the most effective.
Read Further: 15+ Best Internship Websites for Finding Programs Near You (or Abroad!)
Another great resource is the career center at your college or university. Some companies (especially those with alumni who went to your school) will reach out directly to college career centers when they’re in search of interns. This is a great place to look because the pool of competition is smaller than it is for general job sites, so you’ll have better odds.
Also, check the bulletin boards around campus. You never know what flyer or poster you might see.
Social media is also a great place to look. Follow your dream companies on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook to see opportunities without having to check their corporate websites every day. Plus, you can get a sense of the company culture and decide if it would be a good fit for you.
Don’t forget about career fairs on campus. You’ll get the chance to meet employers in person and consider companies you might not have thought of otherwise. If you do apply, you’ll have a better shot especially if the hiring manager remembers meeting you.
You should also tell your friends and family what kind of internships you’re looking for. Your roommate’s cousin or your uncle’s best friend might be the key to finding your dream internship. Opportunities are everywhere, you just have to pay attention and be open to new things.
Finally, there’s us—Goodwall!
At Goodwall, you don’t just get thousands of internship opportunities for every type of intern program. As a Goodwall member, you also get to leverage the support of over 1 million members in 120+ countries. So, whether you need to ask internship questions or learn how to get an internship somewhere in particular, such as Google or Facebook, you’ll find the right people on our platform!
Read Further: 10 Niche Social Media Sites & Vertical Networks to Join in 2021
3. Prep Your Paperwork & Apply
When you apply for an internship, you’ll always need a resume and usually a cover letter. Also, make sure to follow the instructions in the listing to see how they want you to submit your application.
Your resume advertises your experience and your cover letter explains why you’re the right person for the internship.
If you’re afraid you don’t have enough experience to write your first resume, don’t worry. Start with a template and go from there. Since you’re a student, you should focus on your academic experience like your GPA (if it’s above a 3.0), relevant classes, and class projects.
You can also list part-time jobs on your resume, even if they’re not directly relevant. You probably learned soft skills like customer service, time management, and communication which employers look for. In fact, 57% of employers think soft skills are more important than technical or hard skills.
Once you’ve written a draft of your resume and cover letter, head to your university’s career center to have someone review it.
If you don’t have one already, you should make a LinkedIn account because it shows you’re thinking about your future after college. It’s a great way to build a network and show off your projects or awards. Plus, some applications ask for a LinkedIn profile URL, and if you already have one, you’ll be prepared.
A lot of employers will look at a potential intern’s personal social media accounts, so remove the stuff you wouldn’t want your mom to see. You can also edit your privacy settings.
Read Further: Best First Jobs: 65+ First-Time Job Ideas for Teens & College Students
4. Nail the Internship Interview
Jobs and internships are extremely competitive—hiring managers often get hundreds of applications for each job opening. Out of the people who apply, only 2% get called in for interviews.
If an employer asks you for an interview, congratulations! It means you made the short list of people they’re interested in. But, your work isn’t finished yet—you need to convince them why you’re the best choice.
If you’re nervous for your interview, that is totally normal. Interviewing is a skill, just like driving a car or writing an academic paper. That means you need to practice and prepare for your interview.
Read Further: How to Prepare for an Interview
Before your interview, look up common interview questions and think about your answers. A lot of hiring managers will ask similar questions, so your preparation will make a big difference. You should also do mock interviews with a friend, family member, or even someone at your career center.
You also need to do as much research as you can on the company. Learn about their upcoming projects and the latest company news. Your knowledge will show the hiring manager that you really want the internship, plus you’ll feel more relaxed.
Show up for the interview 10-15 minutes early wearing a professional outfit. Bring several copies of your resume, a pad of paper to take notes, and your confidence.
Read Further: Here’s What to Bring to an Interview
5. Follow Up With the Interviewer
After the interview, send your interviewer an email within 24 hours. Thank them for their time, tell them how great it was to meet them and how even more interested you are about the internship opportunity. Perhaps ask one more question you forgot to mention at your interview.
If you haven’t heard back after a week or two, send one more follow-up email, just in case. At some larger companies, as well as small organizations short on staff, the process could take longer than usual.
If you were not granted the internship opportunity this time around, don’t worry! Use the process you went through as a learning experience, and then try once more to get an internship somewhere new.
Let’s wrap this up so you can get started on scoring that interview for real.
As a college student, you’re already juggling school, a social life, and extracurriculars. It’s tough to imagine adding anything else to your plate, but internships could be a beneficial part of your college experience.
Internship experience can make a huge difference when you apply to jobs after graduation—you know, “real jobs.” Once you know how to get an internship, you’ll better understand how to navigate the job search and hiring process too. You won’t get everything you apply for, but it’s an important learning experience.
Are you ready to land your dream internship? 🦄
Get started by searching the Goodwall Opportunities board for internships near you. Then, download our app (links below) and spruce up your web profile to make sure it’s ready to be seen by your future employers.
Good luck on your search, and we’ve got our fingers crossed for you! 🤞🏽