Expert Advice for Scoring a Killer Internship

Internships can play an important role in getting you ready for your future career through the hands-on experience you can gain and professional connections you can make. But how exactly do you score that all important internship? The tips below can help you do just that.

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By Jessica Lyons

1. Get organized.

Your search will be much easier if you are organized about it. Take some time to think about what you hope to gain from an internship and what places best match those goals. Then compile a list of businesses or organizations that could be worth reaching out to.

2. Start looking early.

As with many things in life, the sooner you get started the better. By beginning your internship search as early as possible, there will be more openings, which will increase your chances of finding the ideal one instead of having to settle.

3. Tailor your resume and cover letter to the position you're applying for.

A generic resume and cover letter won't stand out as much as documents that you tailor to each individual internship opening. Each time you apply to a position, take the time to rework your resume and cover letter to address that specific business or organization.

4. Talk to your professors.

As you get ready to start your search, talk to some of your professors to see if they have any leads on great internships that might not be openly advertised. With all of their connections, they are sure to know about some worthwhile internship opportunities.

5. Get together letters of recommendation and references.

If you're applying for extremely competitive internships, you're going to want to have some high quality letters of recommendation and references that you can provide to the internship coordinator. Have all of this information ready to go as you start applying so if it is requested you won't be scrambling to get it together.

6. Know your school's requirements.

Each school handles internship requirements differently. Some might not allow you to get paid if you're getting school credit. Other schools might require you to complete a certain amount of hours per credit you are trying to earn. Check all of this information in advance.

7. Visit your on-campus career office.

In addition to talking to your professors, you can also stop by your school's career office to see if they can help you. Part of their services could include internship placement assistance. They can also aid you by looking over your resume or cover letter.

8. See if friends and family can help.

It certainly can't hurt to let your friends and family know that you're looking for an internship. There's always a chance that they might know someone who is looking for an intern.

9. Show that you're professional.

Even if you're not getting paid for an internship, that doesn't mean that you can treat it any way you want. You're still being hired to do a job and need to act professional, which includes dressing appropriately, showing up on time and doing quality work. An interview for a potential internship is the perfect time to show that you're the type of professional individual they need.

10. Go to internship fairs.

Keep an eye open for any on-campus or nearby internship fairs taking place. They are an ideal place to look to for openings. When you go, be sure to dress professionally and have copies of your resume handy.

11. When in doubt, send in your resume.

Is there someone in particular who you're absolutely dying to intern for? Even if you don't see an opening for an intern on their website, it can't hurt to send in your resume and express your interst in working for them. Your initiative might be enough to make them decide to take on an intern.

12. Apply to more than one place.

Just because your dream company has an opening doesn't mean that's the only place you should apply to. The more applications you send out the better because it will increase your chances of getting an internship.

13. Be willing to be flexible.

You might be able to get an amazing internship, but only if you agree to work longer hours than you wanted or different days than you would have preferred. The experience you'll get will be worth it so don't pass up on an internship just because it doesn't exactly match what you want to do.

14. Remember that you have to work your way up.

As an intern, you're not going to be given a lot of glamorous tasks. You might find yourself making a lot of copies and getting coffee in the beginning, but you have to start small and work your way up. So if you're offered an internship and have reservations about doing such basic tasks, take the position, work hard and show that you're ready for bigger responsibilities.

15. Once you get your internship, make the most of it.

It's not time to start slacking off after you've done all of the hard work to get that much-sought-after internship. You need to continue to work hard and impress your supervisors. After all, an internship could lead to a paying job.

Getting valuable career-related experience doesn't have to be boring. Check out these fun internship opportunities that can prepare you for careers.

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