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A 5-Step Plan for Landing a Summer Internship

Internships serve a dual purpose: They provide college students with practical experience and offer employers a way to find talent to hire in the future.

Also, having an internship on your resume when you graduate can give you an edge in the job market. More than three-quarters of employers surveyed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) prefer to hire new college graduates with relevant work experience.

If you’re a college student and want to land an internship for the summer, start today by following these steps:

(1) WRITE YOUR RESUME

What motivates you to seek an internship? For most, it’s the opportunity to work in a job that closely resembles the kind of work they plan to pursue. Many also do it to make some money to help pay for college and a decent social life (though some internships don’t pay, so keep that in mind when you're looking). Either way, your efforts should start with a resume that highlights the following:

Objective: State your goal while emphasizing the value you offer the organization. Entry-level and experienced professionals must focus their resumes and cover letters on the value they bring potential employers, so this gives you an early opportunity to adopt that mindset. For instance:

A summer internship position in XYZ Company's accounting department in which to contribute successful college academic experience, leadership skills, and strong work ethic in business administration, especially cost accounting and management accounting.

Education and Work Experience. Consider which of these two carries more weight today. If you’ve performed work similar to what you’d like to do in the internship – even as a volunteer – play that up before your education. If not, emphasize your education, especially relevant coursework. If your GPA is above 3.0, or above 3.5 within your major or in courses relevant to the job, use it. Don’t forget to list other work experience – even that previous summer job scooping ice cream – to show that you have at least a little work history.

(2) LINE UP REFERENCES

Ask trusted professors and current or former bosses if they will agree to give you strong, positive references. If they do, have their names and contact information available to give the hiring manager if he or she asks for it.

(3) LOOK FOR TARGET COMPANIES

Make a list of employers that are within a reasonable commuting distance. Look at the Career Opportunities pages of their web sites and follow the processes for contacting them. Some may even have information specific to summer internships.

In addition, web sites such as InternshipRatings.com list internship openings by geography and company.

(4) FIND ADVICE ON CAMPUS

Utilize your campus career services center for advice, as well as professional contacts they may have. Take advantage of any workshops that focus on interviewing and resume writing. Attend any job fairs they sponsor, especially if representatives from your target companies will be there.

(5) USE YOUR ONLINE NETWORK

Find friends of friends of friends on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites who can tell you about openings or the companies that interest you. The better informed you are before an interview, the easier it will be to decide whether it’s worth spending most of your summer in the position.

What other advice could you offer college students who are seeking internships? Please share it below.


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