Five Steps to Your Internship!

By Madinatou Diallo on April 18, 2013

1.      Decide what you want out of the internship

First and foremost, when looking for an internship, figure out exactly what you want to gain from it. Maybe it is for experience in a particular field, or exposure to a certain environment. Perhaps it is simply because you know for sure you will enjoy spending your entire summer or semester working for this particular company or organization. Additionally, knowing what you want to do will save you a lot of time and pain. Writing a cover letter for something you really want is so much easier than the alternative. Whatever the reason, find it first. It will only benefit you in the long run.

2.      Make a list of target companies/organizations

Once you are certain of what kind of internship you want, this step is very easy. It is just a matter of doing simple research on Google. Read about companies or organizations that interest you. Get as informed about a company’s or an organizations history and current work. While researching a company or organization, you might find that there is something that you particularly don’t like about it. For example, you might not want to work for Apple Inc. because of all of the sweatshops the company is engaged in. If there is something you don’t like about a company or organization, it is better you find out now rather than after you have spent time completing an application or in the middle of your internship. This helps narrow and focus your list even more.

3.      Talk to people in similar fields and take recommendations

Once you have figured out what you want to do as an intern and have a list of companies and/or organizations you would like to work for, this step is crucial. Talking to people in the field in which you are interested will help you a lot as it will give you much needed insight. For Mount Holyoke students in particular, the Career Development Center has made this very easy. The CDC has binders filled with alumnae profiles. To top it off, binders are arranged by field. With that being said, it is important to keep in mind that talking to these people is not enough. You must ask for recommendations and advice and take it. Or else, all of your time and efforts are for nothing!

4.      Network with people in your target companies or organizations

As a college student, you must be sick of hearing the word ‘networking’. Everyone tells you to network–parents, older siblings and cousins, mentors, CDC staff, and the list goes on. Well, let me tell you this, if it wasn’t so important they wouldn’t recommend it. Networking is probably the most crucial to a college student now. Finding an internship nowadays is extremely hard and competitive. Networking puts you a step ahead. It tells owners and recruiters that you are very interested. Just for the fact that you are willing to take time out to meet with these people shows that you are both determined and dedicated. Also, networking never goes to waste. If you don’t get an internship with a recruiter you spoke with for the summer because they don’t have an open position. Who knows, perhaps, by the time you graduate they might have something open. So, please NETWORK!

5.      Apply

The last step, which is just as important as the first step, is APPLY. If you do not apply, all of your hard work of making a list of target companies and/or organizations, etc. is going to waste, at least for the moment. Now applying does not mean simply applying. It means sending in the strongest resume and cover letter. Ask for help when writing a cover letter and putting together a resume. Have more than one person look at these two and give feedback–what they think works and what doesn’t work. However, it is important to ask for suggestions from experienced people. For example, going to the CDC is perfect. Asking an upperclassman/woman will also suffice. Professors, if they are willing to help, are also a great resource. Do not send your resume or cover letter unless you are certain it is your best!

Madinah is a sophomore at Mount Holyoke college. She loves to write, especially fiction. When not taking IR courses, she is taking English classes as she enjoys them a lot. She loves singing and dancing a lot. She is obsessed with great movies (Hollywood and Bollywood) and TV shows (Scandal, Revenge, etc.).

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