Read about CCD Student Associate Anna French, and her advice on searching for an internship!
Internships. We hear about them all the time as students, from not only our parents but also our peers. It seems like all our fellow students around us have one or are waiting to hear back regarding their acceptances. If you have not started looking for an internship yet, do not worry. You have plenty of time. The best time to apply for internships as a student who is busy with school and extracurricular activities is winter break. Why? You no longer have schoolwork to bog down your afternoons and most of your extracurricular’s are probably on campus, giving you additional free time. If you return home to your family during winter break you also have the support and knowledge of those you love and trust.
Speaking of family, your families are a prime source of advice. If you are trying to write a cover letter for your internship and can’t find time to swing by the Career Center before you go home try asking your parents, aunts, uncles, and older cousins. Most likely they’ve all written cover letters before, if not for an internship then for a job application. Additionally, your families and family friends act as your first tier of networking. If you are having a hard time finding the type of internship you want on Handshake, try asking those you are close to whether or not they know of anyone who would like to have, or are accepting applications for, interns. Usually someone will say they know of a company who is looking for interns. You can then go and research the position and the company to see whether or not you think you would like to apply there.
As for the application process, you should remember that different companies have different requirements. Some only require your resume. More often than not, though, you will have to provide a cover letter stating who you are, why you want to work there, and why you think that you’re a good fit for the internship position. The key to writing a successful cover letter is doing your research on the company. For example, take a look at the About and Mission pages on the company’s website. These should tell you what sort of environment, work ethic, and goals the company likes to promote and uphold. Tailor your cover letter to reflect these qualities by pulling key descriptor terms from these pages to put into your letter; doing so will show the employer you have vested interest in their work and truly want to work for them. However, do not lie or exaggerate your personality or your experiences. If you are not energetic and the company portrays itself as fast-paced, don’t tell them you are upbeat all the time. Focus on other qualities about the company that you appreciate and be yourself. After all, if you get accepted, your employers will quickly discover any discrepancies between your words and your behaviors, so it is best to avoid them in the first place.
Finally, waiting to hear back can be excruciating and if you get rejected, painful. I just want to remind you: there are many other applicants who are applying for internships, all of them qualified. Yes, you were rejected, but you weren’t the only one who was rejected; others were too. Also, there are many internships out there, and new ones are being posted all the time, so don’t give up hope if you weren’t accepted. Who knows, maybe that internship wasn’t meant for you and a better one will come your way and change your life.