Niche Resources

How To Land Your Dream Internship

If you have been filling your undergraduate college list with competitive universities or are considering a top graduate program, you’re probably on the hunt for ways to stand out in the applicant field. Thankfully, landing a competitive internship is one of the best ways to propel your resume to the top of every school’s list. 

Why are internships so crucial? Well, we know that public universities across the nation are rolling out innovative ways to make a college degree a financially accessible option to more students each year than ever before which is great! In a world where more people are achieving degrees, it’s no longer enough to graduate with a degree in your field. Students in high school and currently enrolled in college should recognize the importance of adding industry experience to your resume through an internship, regardless of whether you are applying to a school at the undergraduate or graduate level. 

An internship within your intended field tells future employers and admissions counselors a few important things:

  1. Your experience in the field has given you the confidence that this is the right career choice.You are not going to be one of those students who drops out of their major after a hard class. 
  2. You will be entering class with the concept of real-world application of the principles you will be learning from your textbooks, and you probably have a great perspective to share with your classmates.    
  3. You already have contacts in the industry, which could lead to internship opportunities for your fellow classmates.  
  4. You are committed to achieving more than the average student— in fact, you’ve already completed an internship experience without help from a university. 

Since we already know that internships are the best way to demonstrate to that dream school or employer that you are committed to the field, we need to locate the perfect internship first. Remember, the objective is not just to collect a paycheck from any company who will accept you but to curate a history of industry experience on your resume. 

Create a List 

Put your research skills to the test by first creating a list of career objectives and then creating a matching list of local businesses in those fields. For example, if your career objective is graphic design, your local business list will include marketing firms in town and companies with a marketing team inside the scope of a larger business. 

Check Out Student Job Boards

If you are a current college student looking to add industry experience before you walk across the graduation stage, your first stops should be your school’s career counseling adviser’s office and your school’s online job board. While many listings on these sites consist of campus jobs, there are typically internship postings, and one of these may be in your field. Your school’s career counselor may have additional campus resources to offer.  

Find The College Where You Belong

Talk to Friends and Family

In your circle of family, friends, and acquaintances through activities like church and sports, there are bound to be people with connections to your intended field. Networking is a major component of job searching, so don’t be afraid to anyone in the field for advice.  

Reach Out

This is where your feet need to hit the digital pavement. Send professional emails to the HR departments of every business on your list, expressing your knowledge of their company and your interest in an internship with them. It’s also a great idea to include a resume with your email, so they can see how prepared you are in advance and can evaluate your past experience. Remember, many smaller internship opportunities are not posted publicly, or at least may not have a formal internship structure to post, but companies may make an exception for a promising local student (that’s you!). 

Search Wider

To complement your local list, you should also cast a wide net for internship opportunities by searching (or setting job alert emails) on platforms like Indeed and LinkedIn. Remember, these are internships, so the playing field is more leveled than your future job search. This means almost everyone applying has little to no experience to offer, so apply to everything that catches your eye. However, since these opportunities are publicized, there will naturally be more competition for them and will also require formal applications. Because of these added factors, this broader search should never replace your local search.

Follow Up

Make sure to follow up with the companies that you reached out to earlier, allowing them to see your continued interest and determination. One follow up email can go a long way.

Throughout your search for the perfect internship, keep your eye on the bigger picture. You’re not just looking for a summer job; you need to add valuable industry content to your resume. Real world experience speaks volumes to future employers and admissions counselors. With this in mind, be prepared to take a low-paying internship for a larger payoff once you are admitted to your dream school or land the perfect job after graduation. 

Author: Michaela Schieffer

Michaela Schieffer is a former admissions counselor and now independent college counselor, guiding students through their college applications and essays through Moon Prep's specialty lies in the Ivy League, direct medical programs (BS/MD), and highly competitive universities.