Most college students are well-versed in juggling both classroom work and internships during the academic year. Yet for some, the bulk of their "real world" internship experience must be gained during the summer months, and obtaining a position can be even more competitive when the temperature rises.
Although the clock is ticking down, there is still time for students to find the right summer internship. Here are my top five tips for what students can be doing now:
• Find your Career Services Office -- and use it!: Many students make the mistake of overlooking this valuable, (free) on-campus resource, or wait until their last weeks prior to graduation to walk through the doors. Students often don't have the time or the background to find internships or jobs on their own, but for the career services staff, this is their area of expertise. Make an appointment now for assistance with honing in on companies that are still looking for interns.
• Know who is coming to campus -- and meet them: Career fairs or recruiter visits from a range of companies are common in the spring. Pay attention to visits scheduled on campus and plan to attend as many as possible. This is a great opportunity to speak directly with employers and share resumes, as well as learn more about a company or industry. It's also a good time to learn if internships are still available or if you can get on a waiting list, should more spaces open.
• Do your homework on your desired industry: If you have your eye on a certain company, spend some time learning more about them. Find some interesting information and be proactive about it. For example, if you see a new product announcement, email the CEO, CMO or division manager why you are excited about it and the potential it brings to the market. Tell them you would love to intern at such a forward-thinking company and what skills you could bring to them as an intern.
• Keep building your network: Now is the time to reach out to friends, family and neighbors to ask for leads or potential recommendations. Family friends are always willing to help someone get started if they can; they just need to know what you are looking for. And don't forget the power of social networking -- use Twitter and Facebook to let people know that you are looking for an internship. The more specific you can be about the industry or kind of work you desire, the better.
• Visit the company: Keep in mind that this strategy may not work for all companies, particularly large corporations that may frown on visitors without appointments. But if you are interested in working at a non-profit or a small company, it might be beneficial to stop by the office and inquire about internships. Be prepared to meet with someone, dress professionally and bring resumes.
With a plan in mind and an aggressive, enthusiastic approach, it is certainly possibly to land the right opportunity to keep you busy and give you a chance to build your skills during the warm summer months. The key is to get started right away, use the tools available to you, and market yourself!