College is prime time for exploring your personal interests and testing out your possible future career path, which means it’s also primetime for interning. Scoring an internship is kinda like getting to try before you buy. The thing is, we all think we know what we want to do, but sometimes, once we actually get in the direct line of fire, it’s not at all what we expected. And that’s totally OK! Internships help us weed out the misses before we settle on a win.
It probably doesn’t surprise you to learn that internships are proven to positively impact the lives and career paths of students who participate in them. In fact, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), studies show that employers are more likely to consider candidates with internship experience. About 60 percent of college grads who completed a paid internship wind up with at least one job offer post-graduation. So, yeah, you should definitely aim high for that coveted internship position!
Scoring Internships for College Students
Luckily, there are a ton of companies that offer internships for college students, both paid and unpaid. As long as you have a strong academic track record and can show that you’ll be a dedicated asset to the company where you want to intern, you’ve got great chances of nabbing one. But where, exactly, do you start? Despite what your parents may tell you, “hitting the pavement” and going door-to-door is definitely not the recommended protocol these days.
Instead, you’ve got to use a combo of the internet and your school’s resources to help you score the big offer. Here’s the best strategy for earning an internship in 2020 and beyond.
- Create a Digital Portfolio – First off, use Tallo. Our digital portfolio for students lets you unapologetically brag about your greatest assets and achievements. Then, it pairs you with the best potential internships for your background and goals. Showcasing your talent helps companies see why you’re such a great fit for their internship program and then opens up the doors for the rest of your professional life.
- Think About Where You Want to Intern — Having a rough idea of where you’d like to intern is crucial to ensuring that you wind up somewhere that’ll help you envision your future. With that being said, you don’t want to be too rigid. For example, if you’re into media or journalism, think about a newspaper or magazine internship, but don’t get too hung up on the specific publication. Any industry experience is great at this stage.
- Talk to Your Professors and Advisors — That is literally what they are there for! In fact, many internship programs go directly to educators and universities to find the ideal applicants. And, chances are, if you’re in good graces with your advisors and teachers, they’ll be happy to put in a good word for you. Just make sure to start early. Here’s a rough guideline for when to start your search:
- If you want to intern in the summer, start looking in February or March.
- If you want to intern in the fall semester, start looking in July or August.
- If you want to intern in the spring semester, start looking in September or October.
- If you haven’t gotten any offers, keep applying up until the last minute.
- Think Outside the Cubicle — The rules are always changing when it comes to the job market and internships, so don’t feel like you have to adhere to some status quo. There are many unique internship opportunities out there that don’t involve a desk or a cubicle, from interning at professional sports stadiums and concert venues to hanging out in national parks all day. Of course, if your ideal job involves a desk and two- or three-screen setup, then by all means intern in an office setting.
You Can Never Have Too Many Internships
If you’ve only got one semester or summer break to intern, we recommend doing it your sophomore or junior year. That way, if your internship leaves you wanting to try something new, you’ve got time to pivot. But if you have the flexibility in your schedule, why not intern a few times throughout your college career? The way we see it, the more internships you complete, the more confident you’ll be about your chosen career path!