The Intern's Guide: How to Start Your Search, Where to Apply and Ways to Get the Gig

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k
April 19, 2024 at 8:45PM UTC

Internships have become widely regarded as the entry point to careers, no matter what your age or background. They aren’t exclusive to college students and recent graduates — many professionals looking to change jobs or industries seek them out too since they are opportunities to learn about and gain experience within the field.

But it’s rarely easy to land that coveted internship. That’s why we’ve put together a guide to get you started.

Start your search.

1. Kick it off early.

Begin your search earlier than you think you need to. If you’re a college student looking for a summer internship, for example, you should probably start looking and applying in the fall semester or during your winter break. This goes for others, too. It’s important to get a jump start on your internship search because just as with later-career roles, finding a job takes time — often more time than you expect.

2. Consider a range of career interests.

Make a list of and narrow down your career interests. You may have your heart set on a particular niche, but it is valuable to explore a range of ideas. You may discover a path you didn’t even know existed.

3. Network.

You never know who might be helpful in your job — or internship — search. Reach out to friends, family members, classmates, former classmates — essentially everyone. If you’re in college, your school might have a career counseling center that could have valuable resources. Alumni from your institution can be helpful, too, whether or not you’ve already graduated.

Don’t underestimate the usefulness of informational interviews. They can provide you with a wealth of guidance and information. So, if anyone offers you this type of opportunity, be sure to take them up on it.

4. Browse job boards and job-search sites.

Traditional job boards and job-search sites like Fairygodboss, LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor post internships frequently. These can be helpful tools to target your search and discover new opportunities.

Land and ace the interview.

5. Write a standout cover letter and resume.

Both the resume and cover letter should be tailored to the particular role and organization, no matter how much experience you have. If you’re early on in your career or still in school, you probably don’t have much work experience, but you can include roles like the president of a relevant club and any awards or honors you’ve accrued. Of course, include other internships, if you’ve had any, too.

6. Practice.

Hone your interview skills by practicing with someone you trust. While you don’t want to come off as too rehearsed, you do want to feel comfortable discussing yourself, your skills, and your experiences. Ask for feedback about everything from body language to the content of your responses.

7. Ask questions.

Before your interview, develop some questions to ask during the meeting. The interviewer will usually give you time at the end to ask them, as well as leave space during. The best questions are ones that follow up on something you’ve discussed, but it’s a good idea to have a few prepared, too. Just be sure not to ask about anything the interviewer has already addressed during the conversation.

Impress your employer.

8. Treat it like a full-time, long-term job.

You’ve got that amazing opportunity. Congratulations! But the work doesn’t end there. Now, you need to bring your most professional, competent self to the internship. Treat it like a permanent position. Don’t just do what you’re asked to do — go above and beyond, looking for ways to assist your employer and the team.

A word of caution: as an intern, you may very well be asked to take on tasks that aren’t the most exciting. Don't act like you're above them — do them well. This is part of starting out.

9. Get to know your colleagues.

Try to get to know as many of your colleagues as possible. Look for opportunities to chat with them about their roles, how they got into the field, what they like and dislike about it, and so on. This will help you form connections that could serve you well in the future.

And remember to learn! Take advantage of the opportunity to dive into the industry. You may even discover that it’s not a great fit, but either way, recognize that it’s a means of learning more about yourself and your career journey.

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This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.

What’s your no. 1 piece for interns? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!

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