The internship search mirrors the job search process – the two can look very similar. In the past internship candidates were able to be present themselves without much polish or focus. Now that the internship landscape has become more competitive, that is no longer the case. Learning and practicing the steps to search for an internship will be essential for your job search senior year. Each student and each industry will have its idiosyncrasies, but a good search will typically follow this process:
1. Determine your goals
It can be difficult to find something if you don’t know what you’re looking for! Start with an idea of some of the qualities that you’re looking for in a job or internship before beginning your search. Possible descriptors, like an industry or company name, a skill you hope to obtain, or geographic region you prefer can help determine your search terms and might dictate what resources you use to identify positions.
2. Become savvy about your area of interest
Knowing about career fields will allow you to effectively target your application materials and prepare to be an effective interviewee in that industry. Employers only seek candidates who can articulate their understanding of an industry, organization, and position, and who can sell their skill sets directly to those features. If you are unable to do so, it may be time to circle back to the previous steps.
3. Plan your time and approach
Internship searches are time intensive and energy-consuming, especially if this is your first experience through this process. Block time in your schedule to write good resumes and cover letters, network, and search for and apply to positions prior to when applications are due. Partner with Career Services to develop a personalized action plan to get started and move forward.
4. Focus your self-promotion materials
The most successful job and internship applications are targeted toward a particular industry, organization, and role. Learn to write targeted resumes, cover letters, networking correspondences, and thank you notes. It’s a competitive market, and other applicants are taking the time to do so!
- Check out our online workshops and guides to start composing your documents.
- Attend an in-person workshop.
- Make an appointment to have your application materials reviewed by a career advisor or a peer advisor. Our advisors can also help you understand what “targeting” means.
5. Begin networking... and maintain those relationships
Utilize Colgate’s alumni network (iCAN) and your personal network (e.g. friends, family, faculty, past employers) to connect to individuals who can provide you first-hand perspective of a field or employer. The goal in building these relationships is to gain information to inform a search, not to be offered a position.
6. Find and utilize job/internship posting resources
Unfortunately there is no single website that lists all available jobs and internships. The different pages and search functions will vary depending on your career field, geographic region of interest, and the type of work you look to do. Work with an advisor to familiarize yourself with different job search tools, and determine which is the most helpful for YOU. Check back often to find new positions of interest, and continue to send applications until you secure a position.
- Make an appointment to discuss which resources might be most beneficial.
- Look at our resources page for some Colgate-specific and external online search resources.
7. Identify and outreach to target employers
Develop a prospect list of employers, including obvious and more obscure options.
For instance, if you're interested in media … explore newspapers, radio stations, television networks, publishing houses, marketing firms, PR firms, and/or advertising firms. But also check out communications or promotions offices in large companies/organizations, nonprofit organizations’ outreach, political campaigns, human resources departments, web design, public research interest groups, and brand management firms.
Think creatively about how employers might meet your needs, and expand your notion of what it means to work in your field of interest.
Once you've developed an initial target list,
- Go to company/organization websites to apply for positions.
- Reach out to Colgate alumni and your personal contacts at those organizations – this is where maintaining your network will pay off.
- Stay tuned in to employers visiting campus.
- Follow your companies of interest on social media.
- Continue to identify other similar companies who you might incorporate into your target list.
- Make an appointment to learn how to begin developing or supplement an existing target list.
- Keep using the searches in naviGATE to identify new opportunities.
8. Interview and sign on
You’ve found and applied for positions… now land the job! Practice your interviewing skills, brush up on thank you note etiquette, notify your references, and learn how to negotiate your terms of employers.
- View our online workshops and guides page for detailed information about interviewing and thank you notes.
- Practice interviewing through CareerBeam.
- Make an appointment for a mock interview, to have thank you notes reviewed, or to learn about salary and benefit negotiation.
- Be sure to thank those who helped you arrive at this opportunity!
9. Maximize your experience
Now that you have landed at an employer, get started on the right foot, and keep growing professionally. Set mutual expectations, determine how to obtain feedback, and ask questions of your supervisor. You will be expected to ask questions when needed – it is part of the learning process, and actually expedites your growth! Never assume you know information. Graciously express your interests and ways that you can add value to colleagues. Take advantage of opportunities to learn and contribute.
Enhance your experience by supplementing your job or internship with additional opportunities to expand your skills and gain relevant experience – conduct informational interviews, volunteer, job shadow, take a paid summer job, enroll in academic courses, or travel.
- Learn new skills
- Take ownership over your work
- Maintain your existing network and continue to grow it within your new organization
- Perform above and beyond