The Start of The Internship Process
Updated: Oct 3, 2018
The time to apply for internships has come. If you have not already thought about your summer plans for next year, I suggest that you start now! This is the perfect time to start researching and applying for internships or fellowships. Most application deadlines are between November and January. Many people become overwhelmed by this process which potentially leads to procrastination. However, the earlier you start, the less stress you will have during spring semester. To begin, you must understand what you would like to gain from your summer. This could be immersing yourself in a new culture or learning more about corporate law or even saving money. After you understand your summer goals, hopefully these few simple tips will help your process become less overwhelming.
1. Research –
When you understand your goals, you can better search for opportunities. First, you should generate a list of companies or organizations that you would like to work with. Then, look into each one to see what programs they offer for students. You can then filter out each option by seeing if you met the basic requirements. Verify components like your GPA, major, and age. You should then look to see what the program is offering for participants. If you need to save money, you should know if the program is paying their participants. If the program is not in your own city understand the housing situation. Will they be providing housing? Or do you need to
provide your own housing? For the interview process, will it be a Skype interview? Or in person interview at the designated city? Moreover, really understand the job description to see if it is compatible with your summer goals. Before, applying to an internship really understand what you are applying for so you are not shocked during any stage of the process.
2. Organize –
Some internship applications can take 30 minutes while others take days. It is important to understand what each application is seeking from you and the deadline. Personally, I take one to two hours to simply read all my applications in their entirety. I then make an excel sheet to help keep myself organized and accountable. The sheet includes the company’s deadline, my own personal deadline, and all the requirements for the application. The personal deadline is because I know my schedule best and when I can finish the application. The requirements may include an unofficial or official transcript, recommendation letters, personal statement, etc. If the application process does require recommendation letters, I try to give my recommenders at least 10 days to write a letter. I also clearly communicate to them when I am trying to turn in the application so that I stay within my personal timeline. Lastly, I schedule time to complete the application. This is an important step because it guarantees that I have an ample amount of time to complete it.
3. Talk with your peers and mentors –
Use your resources! Some upperclassmen may have already applied and been accepted to the same programs you are applying for. I did not talk to my peers enough throughout my application process my freshmen year. Often times, I felt that I had it in the bag and did not need outside help. However, when I humbled myself I soon realized that my peers were some of my greatest assets. They are able to tell you what exactly a recruiter is looking for during an interview, who to seek recommendations from, and what they did right or wrong in their process. You should also talk with your mentors or advisors. They have friends or colleagues who may be working within programs you are applying for. This could be a great asset because it gives you more insight on what each program is looking for. Furthermore, they will probably be more honest with you than your peers. I have learned the most, when my mentors sat me down in their office and were brutally honest. These people are in your life to help you navigate throughout your process more efficiently .
4. Do not limit yourself –
I remember my first week of college, there was a presentation by Google regarding internships. Boy o boy! I was nervous and intimated. After the presentation instead of staying behind to talk with the recruiter one-on-one, I quickly exited the auditorium. I just knew that I did not have what it took to be an intern with Google because I was only in college for one week. Now, I think about what would have happened if I simply talked with the recruiter. You never know what skills you bring to the table that others’ do not possess. For example, hosting at a restaurant throughout high school gave me the ability to be able to be work in high stress environments. Even though, I did not gain this skill in a professional work environment it has helped me in all areas of my life. You may not have that “perfect” resume due to your professional experience but through other experiences you may have gained other great qualities.
5. Do not limit the company
After hearing from some upperclassmen on their internship experiences, I just knew I could not go home and intern with some company in Cleveland. I was determined to be in Washington D.C. or New York my freshmen year. Well, let’s just say that summer I was in Cleveland interning. I thought I would be miserable however I had an amazing experience. Since I was with a small company, I was able to form genuine relationships with the staff. This allowed me to receive meaningful experiences which are still impacting me today. Many of the lesson and tools that I gained through that internship has carried over to my work with the Democratic and Republican National Convention and even now at NASA. Just know, that some of the smallest companies will give you more experiences than a big company in New York City. Moreover, these small companies are making some of the largest impacts in their communities.
During my college career, I have tried my best to maximize my summers. I have had the opportunity to work with a small communications firm, The National Credit Union Administration, NASA, and many other companies. Nonetheless, to gain each of these opportunities I had to take that leap of faith and apply. Yes, it was nerve wracking and overwhelming but it granted me some of the best experiences in my collegiate career. This week, I challenge you to sit down and start writing down your summer goals and then conquering those applications. Remember, you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you!