How to Find an Internship
The Office of Career Services (OCS) has many resources to help you locate an internship. The list of resources below will give you a starting place. These web pages will point to a few of the many OCS resources and provide some suggestions for creating your own internship. If you have any questions or want help generating ideas, make an appointment to meet with one of the OCS staff members. Happy hunting!
The OCS maintains a database of current and past internship listings. Students can search for internships according to geographic location, field of interest, by company name, or by other criteria.
Other resources located in the OCS include national internship directories, such as:
- Peterson’s Internships 2003
- The Internship Bible 2001
- 2002 National Directory of Scholarships, Internships, and Fellowships for Latino Youth
- Gardner’s Guide to Internships in New Media
- The Women’s Rights Internship Book
- Washington Internships in Law and Policy
- America’s Top 100 Internships 2000
National internships are often very competitive and have early deadlines. If you are interested in a national internship, it is a good idea to start looking early in the fall prior to the summer for which you are seeking an internship.
Creating An Internship
The list of internships maintained by the OCS is not exhaustive. Therefore, you may choose to create your own internship that matches your field of interest and geographic preference.
Step One: Develop a list of potential internship sponsors
The first step in creating an internship is to develop a list of potential internship sponsors. The following resources will help you in developing this list:
- Phone Books: This may seem unusual, but the phone book is a great resource for locating employers in your field of interest.
- Networking: Never underestimate the power of networking! Expand your contact list by asking family and friends if their employers have interns for the summer. Also, obtain an alumni print-out at OCS to contact alums who are employed in your field of interest. Although theymay not be able to connect you with an internship, they may know someone who can.
- The Internet: Use the links on the OCS web site, or use a search engine to search for internships. Just type in the word “internship”, or type a particular field and the word “internship”. For example, for internships with newspapers, type in “internships AND journalism.”
- National job listings: such as Job Seeker, Current Jobs for Graduates in Business, LiberalArts, and Communications, Art Search, etc., often have sections for internships. See a counselor to learn of listings for your field.
- Career exploration directories for individual fields: Resources such as Job Surfing: Media and Entertainment or the Career Guide to the Top Consulting Firms are located in our Resource Library. These books contain information that can help you identify potential internship sites.
- Job books: Many of these are located in the OCS. Employers who hire people in your field are potential internship sponsors! Many also include internship listings.
- Chambers of Commerce: They usually have a listing of employers for a specific geographic region. This is an especially good resource for out-of-town employers.
The Next Step: Approaching employers
Once you have created a contact list, send a copy of your resume and cover letter to the employers on your list. The purpose of the cover letter is to introduce yourself and to state why you are writing and what you can contribute to the organization. It should not merely be a restatement of your resume. In your closing, you should give the employer an idea of when you will be contacting him or her.
Guides for writing resumes and cover letters are available in the OCS, or on-line here. You should allow a week to ten days after they receive your resume before calling. Use each contact who says no as an opportunity to expand your network. Ask the employer if he or she knows anyone who might be interested in sponsoring an intern. If he or she provides a name, ask if you may use his or her name when you call. Although you do not want to be pushy, you do want to make the most of each contact.
Last Words: Evaluating an internship
Unfortunately, not all internships are equal in their value. Before you begin the process of selecting one, you need to determine what you are looking for in a meaningful internship. Thinking this through in the beginning will help direct your search and will also translate into clearer communication with potential employers.
There are a few features that indicate a quality internship experience, regardless of your specific goals. A quality experience might include some or all of the following:
- Challenge: The ability to work slightly above your current skill level
- Supervision: An assigned mentor who has experience working with interns
- Exposure: The opportunity to interact with multiple departments.
- Results: A tangible project or report at the conclusion of the experience.
When you are talking with employers, try to determine which of these elements will be available to you as an intern. These guidelines, along with your learning goals, will assist you in creating a more meaningful, productive internship experience.