So you think you want to be an intern? Great idea—an internship can help you earn college credit, gain real-world experience in your career field, make connections with people in your line of work, and figure out whether you really want to do this type of work once you get out of college.
But finding internships that are relevant to your career interests isn’t always easy, especially if you can’t afford to move outside your home state or the area you attend college. Luckily, I’ve got a few tips and tricks you can use to find an internship near you:
Before you turn to the internet, ask your real-life friends, family, and acquaintances.
- Professors: Always start with professors. For one thing, they will remember where previous students have interned and may be able to suggest internship programs that other students have enjoyed. Professors also get emails from companies in the area that are looking for interns, and they may know people who might be able to help you find an internship.
- Club or organization leaders: If you’re a member of a club or organization that’s relevant to your career interests—say, Sigma Tau Delta or Phi Beta Lambda—ask your leaders and faculty advisor for advice. They might be able to point you toward internship opportunities exclusive to organization members or refer you to companies or employers they’re connected with.
- Former students in your field: Think of students a few year ahead of you who have already completed an internship and ask them whether they have any tips on finding internships. If they can put in a good word for you at a company they previously interned for, all the better.
- Relevant family members: If you’ve got family members who work in the career field you’re interested in, reach out to them and ask whether they know of any internships or opportunities.
Job search engines
Start with the well-known general job search engines, like Glassdoor, Monster, and CareerBuilder. Narrow your search down to the geographical area you would like to work in as well as your level of experience, preferred industry, and job title.
You’ll also want to track down industry-specific job search engines. For example, if you’re going into healthcare, you may want to search on HealthcareJobsite. A few Google searches or a quick chat with a prof or former student should point you toward the right niche job sites. Obviously, as with any information you find on the internet, you’ll want to carefully vet any internships you do find to ensure that the companies are legit and that you’re not sending your info to a scammer.
It’s pretty easy to search for internships on LinkedIn, but you may not find very many options. If you don’t find relevant matches, don’t despair; plenty of decent companies with internships just don’t post jobs on LinkedIn. But if you do find internships that match up with your interests and location, apply for them on LinkedIn or on the company website.
Use Twitter’s advanced search to find internship opportunities that companies, employers, or employment opportunities accounts have tweeted about. Search “industry + “internship,” set the date range for within the last three to six months (so you don’t waste your time looking at expired opportunities), and see whether anything relevant shows up.
If your search doesn’t yield the results you’re looking for, try different variations. For example, if you’re looking for an editorial internship in publishing, try “editorial intern,” “editorial internship,” “editing internship,” “publishing intern,” “publishing internship,” etc.
Don’t give up quite yet!
Let’s say you’ve exhausted all your options. You’ve searched for internships using all of the above resources, but you still can’t find a relevant internship that’s in your area. Fortunately, you’re not out of luck yet.
This situation happened to me a few summers ago. I wanted to live in St. Louis for the summer, and I wanted to pick up an internship in publishing. Unfortunately, there aren’t many publishers in St. Louis. I found two indie publishers that said they were based in St. Louis, but neither had internship opportunities listed. Instead of giving up, however, I decided to do the scariest thing you can do: Cold email a company and ask for an internship.
Cold emailing to inquire about an internship is definitely uncomfortable, but you may be successful. I composed an email to each publisher detailing how I found out about the company, why I wanted to intern for them, and what previous experience I had relevant to the job I wanted. I attached my resume, hit send, and prayed. Surprisingly, it worked.
The bottom line? If you strike out in your search for internships, turn to a few companies in your area and inquire about an internship, whether that’s by cold emailing them, picking up the phone, or walking into their location if you live nearby.
Finding an internship can be a long, frustrating, time-consuming process. Some people will get lucky and stumble across the perfect opportunity, while others will spend months searching with no avail. Use these resources and strategies to search, and remember to just keep trying.