How to Secure an Internship

Recently, I discussed the steps to take if you would like to start volunteering this summer. Today, I’ll walk you through securing an internship.

Note: this post is not an official or comprehensive guide.

Rather, I aim to make the process of applying for an internship position less confusing and more approachable.

In my previous post, I recommended that you treat applying for a volunteer position like you would treat a job application.

This advice holds for applying for an internship as well.

An internship is essentially a job with training wheels attached. But internship applications are usually much more competitive than volunteer positions, especially with prestigious companies and organizations.

Step 1: Get your resume and cover letter ready!

Most internship applications will ask you for a resume and a cover letter.

Since it will be more difficult to secure an internship if you have no experience, consider the ways in which you could build your experience before applying for an internship.

You can find useful resources for building a cover letter and resume online.

Learn from my mistakes: make sure you are writing individualized cover letters instead of copying and pasting the same letter over and over. If you copy cover letters, you will likely make a mistake and forget to change the name of the position, the company name, or the name of the hiring manager.

Make sure to write an individualized cover letter for each internship you are applying for. Writing a general cover letter may also come across as vague and impersonal. Needless to say, I didn’t get those internships I submitted the same cover letter to. 

You can find postings for internships either through your school or through sites like Indeed. Look for internships that interest you, not just positions that may look good on your resume.

Applying to internships can be both exhausting and frustrating. At times, it may seem like no one is getting back to you.

Try not to despair. Think about the career you want for yourself and look for a position that will provide you with the skills and training to enter that field.

Step 2: Determine what you are willing to accept.

Internships vary in their time requirements, but are usually contracted positions. This means that you will be interning for a fixed period of time, and when that time is up, your position within the company will be over.

How much time can you commit?

Some internships are full-time, some are part-time, and some will only require a few hours of your time a month. Review your weekly schedule and determine if the time commitment is something you can fit within your current schedule.

How far are you willing to travel?

Are you willing to spend the summer in a different city? Can you only arrange transportation within a 30 minute drive from your current location? Does the internship have to be within walking distance for you to be able to accept it? These are all important questions to ask yourself and will require careful thought.

What are your financial needs?

Many internships are unpaid and are instead used for school credit. If you are unable to accept an unpaid internship, it is important to determine this before applying, so that you can focus your time and energy on applying to paid internships.

Step 3: Prepare for the interview.

Brush up on your interviewing skills.

You will likely need to go in for an in-person interview in order to secure an internship. Make sure you dress appropriately. As a general guideline, a button down shirt, dress pants, and dress shoes are appropriate to wear to an interview.

Once you’ve accepted an internship offer, you will receive training for your position and come to understand what is expected of you.

Finally, interning is an excellent opportunity to network and ask questions, so make sure that you do both!

DISCLAIMER: A previous version of this article included a link to a free resume tutorial on a site that also offered paid resume help services. We have removed the link, and we wish to clarify that we never intended to endorse or promote those paid services.

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