The real problem with finding an internship is that there is an overwhelming amount of resources and information out there. When it comes time to apply to internships, you are part way through the semester and may feel like the last thing you want to do is more work (i.e. internship search and applications). To make things easier on yourself, consider narrowing down your search.
Start by figuring out what kind of internship you want. Since there seems to be a wealth of them, it is easiest to narrow down the search to specific areas, organizations, or job types. The great thing about most internships is that you do not need to have actual experience. So if you have been questioning a change in major or even career, an internship can help you get your foot in the door. Keeping this in mind, ponder what kind of internships would be the best fit for you. This means you should take into consideration specific requirements based upon your personal situation, such as geographical location or income. Think what you want to do or want experience in; create a list of those positions or organizations; and then chase after them.
For example, I was looking for an internship this summer. My situation is a bit unique as I am leaving the health care field and transitioning to a graduate program in public policy, something I have zero experience in. I decided that I would quit my job in New York and move to Providence where the rent is cheaper. Having no experience in the field, I knew it would be nearly impossible to find a job; however, it would be much easier to find an internship. Therefore, my internship search required a specific geographical location, decent pay, and a localized field. Despite what it may sound like, this actually made things a bit simpler. I searched for internships in Providence and Rhode Island that were paid and focused on public policy without being at a non-profit.
If you don’t have all those specifics in mind, do not fret. Just ask yourself what the ideal experience would be for you. Where would you like to spend a summer? Will it only be possible if you live with your parents? How intense do you want it to be? If you are not sold on your major, what else sounds appealing? These are the kind of questions that can help direct your internship search.
Starting the internship search
Now that we know what to aim for, let’s start the search. You can locate internships the usual way – through your school’s career services or job postings. Or you can locate internships on your own. While the second option may require more effort on your part, the reward may just be worth it.
Think of it this way: the internships that are advertised the most will get the most applications and diminish your chances of landing the internship. Of course this does not mean that there is no use in applying. As I previously mentioned, universities have a great deal of resources. Use them. Seriously, you are paying for them, so use them. While you are at it, use every other university’s as well. Some schools have much better lists or resources than others. There is no rule that you can’t venture to another .edu address. After all, this generation has the entire internet at its disposal. Don’t forget to check out sites like Idealist.org or USAjobs.gov.
But what happens if you cannot locate the perfect internship on a list or career site? Don’t fret, there are the obvious internships and then there are those that are not advertised much or at all. This is why I recommended making a list of organizations or companies that appeal to you. Go to their websites and locate their human resources or career page. You can often find them listed there, despite the internships not being part of any other search. This will not only give you great practice for your impending job search, it may produce the best internship for you. However, if you still have not found that shining opportunity, there is one more option – create your own internship.
My undergraduate institution actually had a program called “Create your own internship,” but a majority of people do not even consider this a possibility. Yet, if you inquire with someone or a company about interning for them, they will often agree, particularly if you are asking for an unpaid internship. After all, you are not only asking for them to employ you for free, you are complimenting them on their work. It’s a win-win. So whether you decide to make a unique internship or apply to a prestigious internship, I hoped this sparked some new ideas on creatively searching.