(Guest blog by Jennifer Dillenger, Director of The Space to: Prepare in The Space at Wofford College. You can reach Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org)
When I watch the Super Bowl, one of my favorite moments always comes when the winning team “surprises” their coach by dumping a cooler of Gatorade on his head. It goes everywhere. I always think that if you were really trying to drink all that at once, you could never do it. However, if I handed you a gallon at a time, you could drink it because the flow is under control.
This image reminds me of students trying to find an internship: there are so many options, so many opportunities, that the flow becomes overwhelming. Before launching an internship search, take a few moments to focus and control your “flow.”
1. Gather your tools
Every internship search needs a set of basic tools.
- Start with a resume: almost every application requires one and your networking contacts like to see accomplishments and past experiences.
- Next, review cover letters in preparation for writing one; learn to write concisely and persuasively about your skills, experience and knowledge.
- Finally, create a LinkedIn profile. Already having a resume will make this process easy. Look at the profiles of people working in your industry to make sure yours has the information recruiters will want to see.
- Other tools may be necessary, depending on your search, but these will allow you to get started.
2. Choose your interest areas
Your major doesn’t automatically translate into a list of possible internships. Instead, take time to research specific interest areas. Here, many students skim over the research and quickly determine healthcare, finance or another industry as an interest area. However, you need to narrow this more. Interest areas might include: commercial real estate, genetic counseling, sports marketing, artistic management, educational nonprofits, etc.
Use resources to understand these interest areas. Through The Space, you have access to Vault and ONET, both of which offer a multitude of vocational information, allowing you to discover interest areas never considered before.
3. Narrow your geography
Research and determine the three most appealing cities for your internship. You should consider living expenses, travel costs and occurrence of internships in your interest area (for instance, hospitality internships are readily available in Detroit, MI).
I understand the desire to remain open to all opportunities, even to “keep your horizons broad,” but choosing 3 cities allows you to significantly focus your search, making it more efficient and increasing your likelihood of landing that internship.
This is just the start of your internship search, but beginning here ensures you have a firm foundation. Commit yourself to this research and tool development now and it will equip you throughout this and every other search you conduct in the future.
With your tools in place, how do you begin the search? Read my earlier post on developing a search strategy.
And don’t forget, come in to The Space to: Prepare for help at any point in this process!