Tips on how to get an internship

One of the most intimidating things in college is applying for an internship. As a current senior, I still fully believe that. 

Job postings seem scary, but the accompanying resume and cover letter requirements make the internship process seem tedious and sometimes out of reach. If you’re like me, there’s always a slight hint of imposter syndrome, thinking it’s not worth applying because so many other people are.

The internship timeline varies depending on what field you’re looking at and when applications open and close. Numerous resources available are far more qualified and official than I am — professors, parents, career advisors, etc. — at giving advice.

Chloe Patel | Senior Graphic Artist

As someone who has had an internship in a cancer genomics company and is currently interning with NBC, I’ve found some tricks in the process that were useful to me, and I hope they can help out someone else as well. 

Take time to construct a strong resume and cover letter format. 

This is perhaps my most generic and technical tip, but it’s true. Set aside some time to research how you want your resume to be formatted. Go online and search for examples of resumes. Do the same for cover letters. 

I’ve used the same format for a while now. Only go in to change minor details when needed. Once you have a general format of these two important documents that you like, you’re already more than halfway there. 

Be creative with your searches.

When finding an internship, go past the obvious ones with the big companies. Having big names under your belt is nice, but you may find that a less visible opportunity will benefit you just as much, if not more. Additionally, visit various job posting websites. LinkedIn and Indeed are two big ones but dedicate time to really dig. 

Stay open-minded

I never thought I would intern with a cancer genomics company for two summers, but I did. I seemed qualified enough for the position, and I just submitted an application. Even though my sights stray away from the biomedical field, that experience taught me things I wouldn’t have gotten at a traditional journalism internship. 

Keep your options open. You may find opportunities and avenues you weren’t originally thinking about before that will ultimately make you a more well-rounded person. 

Try not to get discouraged. Remind yourself that you’re good enough.

I know how it feels seeing seemingly everyone around you get internship positions. It makes you feel like you’re scrambling or not good enough. LinkedIn can be toxic to your self-esteem. 

Out of all the internships I’ve applied to, more than half of them either never reached out to me or rejected me. That’s okay. As defeated as you may feel, keep going. I promise that opportunities will come and organizations will see and want you. 

Network authentically and naturally

I hate the word network. I still do. But networking isn’t as scary as people make it out to be. Networking can be as simple as hearing about an opportunity from your friend and asking them for more details. Networking can be speaking with your professors outside of class about your interests and them forwarding you the email of their former colleagues.

If you’re listening and looking out for it, you may find connections that are right in front of you to grab. Take them. Reach out to someone who graduated a couple of years before you and is now working your dream job. They’ve been exactly where you are. Don’t be afraid to reach out. People generally want to help each other out. 

Take the chance and apply

I saved this for last because I think it’s the most important. Even if you feel you aren’t qualified, apply anyway. Even if you think there’s no way they would want you or there are better applicants out there, apply anyway. Looking back, I missed some opportunities because I didn’t bother trying. 

The worst that can happen is that they choose someone else. But at least you can assure yourself that you tried. Apply — even if you think there’s no way you could get it. I applied for my current internship on a whim, and here I am. 

The internship landscape can be intimidating. I’ve only been able to come up with these tips from time, and even then, they’re not perfect. They’re also not the technical ones that career services often provide. Nevertheless, I hope this helps in some way. You are more capable than you realize.

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