Getting an internship is one of the best pieces of advice that you can take when you go to college. Internships, called co-operative position in some fields, will make you stand out from other entry-level applicants when you graduate from college. Finding an internship can be an arduous process, however, so you should begin as soon as possible.
- Contact the career services department at your college or university. The counselors there should have information on majors in various fields. Their lists will get you started, and they may even have a campus list to which you can subscribe.
At this point, you should begin making a list. Write down all pertinent information, such as the hours required and the duties, for any internship you consider. Your career services counselor also should be able to tell you if your university already has approved all internships you will find through their office.
Find out exactly what the internship entails. Some internships provide hands-on experience in your field while others will have you serving as a gopher without getting any real training. Companies with a legitimate educational opportunity will be able to let you know the kinds of tasks you'll be performing. Avoid any companies where the details are vague or where there are references to phrases such as "getting your foot in the door" or "paying your dues." These phrases typically mean you'll be doing boring, menial labor that the company can't find paid workers to complete.
Check with local companies, particularly if there is one that looks appealing. Ask for human resources and see if they have a set internship program available. Write down companies that do have internship programs that sound interesting to you and be sure that you find out the deadline for applications.
Ask companies without a set internship program if they would be willing to consider having an intern. You will have to do more legwork to get things going if you plan to do an internship that is not established. Still if you want to work in a very specific field or if you're in an area without many internships available, this option may be your best.
Think big. Consider larger corporations because most of them have internships. Professional sporting leagues, for example, have interns who execute a variety of tasks, including public relations, writing, and more. Don't rule out companies you love to patronize and industries you'd like to enter.
After you have compiled the information, cut your list down to three to five companies. Be sure that you check again to find out their official application process and follow it exactly.
Your next step will be to get the appropriate forms from your academic department once you have been accepted for an internship. You will need to fill out these forms in order to get credit with your university for the internship. Some of the companies require these forms upfront, so be sure you find out about them as soon as possible.