5 tips for landing an internship

For those of you trying to plan ahead for internships, here are tips from our expert career advisors about how to land the job.

Start early and talk to your career advisor

Don't wait to look for an internship. It's common for businesses to search for summer interns as early as the fall semester. Students who wait until spring to look for a summer internship might have trouble getting a position because many opportunities will be filled.

It's also smart to begin the internship search by visiting your career advisor. They can help you consider what you want to do with your degree, guide you to templates for your resume and cover letters, review your resume and cover letters, help you with networking, do a mock interview with you, notify you about career fairs, and more.

Search for opportunities

First, check to see if your school has a database or another kind of internship listing for your major. For students in the School of Liberal Arts, there's a database available to get help with many things involving your career. JagJobs, Indiana INTERNnet and Ascend Indiana are a few sites that are specifically intended for students looking for internships. Google and LinkedIn are also options, and of course you can just go directly to a company's website to see if it's hiring.

Career and intern fairs are a great way to find opportunities and get your name out there. When attending career events, informational interviews or job-shadowing opportunities, make sure to dress professionally, come with questions and bring your resume. Also, make sure to follow up with the people you met.

Once you have a list of internships you'd like to apply for, prioritize them. Don't apply for every position that sounds interesting -- but don't apply for just one or two either, in case those companies don't get back to you.

Attending an intern fair is a great way to start the internship hunt.View print quality image
The IUPUI campus has many resources to help with each step in landing an internship. Intern fairs are a great way to search for opportunities, establish connections and get your name out there. Liz Kaye, Indiana University

Use your connections

Connections give you an advantage in the workforce. Not only can they suggest people you haven't heard of, but they could also help you get in the door for that first interview. Those who are close to you know how you work and will likely enjoy helping where they can. Ask your advisors, professors or peers for potential connections. In addition, your parents -- or your friends' parents -- might know people who could help you make connections.

Research professionals in your field and reach out to them to see if they'll talk with you. Other ways to make connections are attending career fairs, joining LinkedIn, scheduling informational interviews and job-shadowing opportunities, attending company presentations, and talking with guest speakers in your classes.

Once again, don't forget to follow up and send a thank-you email or note to people who took any time to help you.

Prepare your resume and cover letter

Every industry has different expectations.

Your resume needs to be descriptive and show measurable outcomes about your work experiences, accomplishments, scholarships and skill sets. It should not be more than one page. Also, unless your GPA is close to a 4.0, don't put it on there.

Your cover letter must be tailored specifically to the internship you're applying for -- do not create a general one you send out to everyone. Briefly include what you know about the company, why you want to work there and how your skills match the needs listed in the job description. When you're done, have professors, advisors, your career development office, parents and friends proofread the documents.

Finally, identify and ask three people you know to be references. Make sure you tell them in advance when they might be receiving a phone call or email from potential employers.

Prepare for the interview

Dress to impress for your interview, complete with professional clothing and a well-groomed appearance. Stay away from strong perfume/cologne and distracting jewelry. Also, find out beforehand exactly where the interview is, how long it takes to get there and where to park to avoid any chance of being late.

Nail down your elevator pitch and rehearse your answers to typical interview questions before the big day, and request a mock interview with your career advisor or a professor.

Lastly, never forget to follow up within 24 hours by sending a thank-you email or handwritten note. It should reiterate your interest, state something you learned or appreciated, and thank them for their time.