This tutorial discusses when it’s best to do internships and how to find them. Here is a list of what’s covered:
- The Time to Do an Internship
- Best Practices for Finding an Internship
1. The Time to Do an Internship
Students most commonly pursue internships in their junior or senior year of college, when they are closer to entering the working world. This makes sense because an upper-class student should have a pretty good idea about the professional field they are targeting.
Perhaps you spent the first two years of college sampling courses to find a major and now that you’ve chosen a major, it’s time to shift your focus to internships in order to narrow down prospective careers. In addition, as a senior close to graduation, you are more likely to be able to transition from your internship to a full-time position at the place you’ve been interning, if the opportunity arises.
However, there may be distinct advantages to seeking an internship earlier in your college career. First, there’s the competitive advantage—if your school allows it, you may want to do as much interning as you can, both to gain experience and to build your résumé. Also, you might prefer interning as a means of vetting potential majors—though the danger there is that if you opt for an internship without much experience taking classes in the corresponding field, you might find yourself stuck in a situation that doesn’t interest you.
In addition to giving some consideration to when in your academic career to pursue an internship, there is also the question of when in the academic year to do it. Balancing an internship with your coursework during the fall or spring term can be a challenge, so many students choose to seek internships in the summer. The advantages are clear—in the summer, students have more time to devote to their internship so they can intern full-time and generally be more engaged with their work without the concern of it distracting from their studies. Because they are so desirable, summer internships can be more competitive.
2. Best Practices for Finding an Internship
So, you decide you’d like to look into what’s out there in terms of internships—how do you find them?
Tell everyone you know about your internship goals: The first thing that you can do is simply talk to the people you know. The concept of having connections is not just for the social elite—you probably have family or friends or acquaintances at work or school that have had experiences with internships. Start by asking around among the people in your life. Then take advantage of the resources you have at school. Once again, an academic advisor is a great person to turn to. In addition, instructors you’ve had who teach in your field are vital as potential sources of information—not only might they know people who work in the field and offer internships, but they have a wealth of experience working with students like you.
Attend career fairs at your school or elsewhere: You might also be on the lookout for events like job fairs, which routinely take place on college campuses. Remember this is a two-way street—employers like having interns and they often actively recruit them. So be sure not to miss an opportunity to speak with a representative of a place you may be interested in working and get the relevant information directly from the source.
Search the web for internships of interest: In addition to making the most of your personal contacts and school resources, you can conduct your own research on the internet by searching job postings and forums, or even checking directly on the website of a company you are interested in interning for. Websites like internships.com allow you to search for opportunities simply by identifying your major and the location where you would like to work.
The best time to do an internship is as soon as you feel ready to explore career paths. Talking to people you know about your goals and interests is a best practice for finding an internship.