Even though you have just started your semester, it is the perfect time to begin searching for a summer internship. According to internships.com, employers begin looking for potential interns in January and generally make their decision in March or April. It can be especially helpful to find an internship the summer before going into your sophomore or junior year to help discover your future career focus or know if you even want to pursue the career field you have in mind.
First, discover available internships applicable to your major and skills. Schedule an internship-specific appointment with career planning through Handshake. Find the professors in your department who have helped students get internships in the past; they often have connections that make finding internships easier. Another method is to search for opportunities online via LinkedIn or a number of career-focused websites. One caution to this method, however, is that networking is often as important as the knowledge and skills you bring, so if you don’t know anyone within the company it can be more difficult to get a position.
Second, develop and sharpen your own standard cover letter, resume, and personal statement. Creating these documents for the first time or even significantly revising them can take hours, so make sure you get help from career planning if you are overwhelmed. Also, each document needs to be specific to the company you are applying to, so keep this in mind and save multiple versions of your documents as needed. The internet is full of helpful cover letter and resume tutorials and guidelines since the standards and expectations for professional documents are fairly uniform and rigid.
Third, invest time and effort into developing your LinkedIn account. Employers frequently ask for your LinkedIn profile site in addition to your resume and other documents. As a form of social media, LinkedIn shows potential employers your professional development and a personalized version of you. However, if you don’t have a lot of connections on LinkedIn, or if you haven’t filled out your profile, you have missed an opportunity to show an employer why they should consider you for an intern position.
Lastly, summer internships are a valuable way to learn and grow professionally (whether they are paid or unpaid). If you can afford it, working for a small amount of money or no salary at all gives you an experience that could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars redirecting your life and education down the road. And if your summer internship boosts your confidence in your desired career path, then you will be more attractive as a potential employee when you begin job searching in a few years.