College Internships 101: Student Guide

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Sophomore and junior years are already stressful years in your college career – you’re taking harder classes, trying to maintain your GPA and extracurriculars and more. And on top of this, most students will be applying for internships and co-ops during this time. This post offers some advice on how to manage the internship application season with schoolwork. 

Applying for Internships/Co-ops

Internships are usually short, paid or unpaid summer programs, whereas co-ops are usually paid and can range anywhere from 3 months to the whole academic year. Both programs are meant to help students gain work experience and open doors in their career fields. 

  • Recruitment for internships and co-ops usually starts early in the fall semester, where many schools will hold career fairs, research fairs, or even on-site interviews 
  • Applications will also open up online through company websites, job application portals, or professional networking sites 
  • Recruitment can continue into the spring semester as well 
  • When beginning to apply, make sure to tailor your resume for each company or group of companies, and look out for keywords or skills that will catch that specific company’s attention better
  • Keep a spreadsheet or other documentation to organize all your open applications, and where you are each in process
  • You can open a simple Google or Excel spreadsheets with columns such as “Application Submission Date”, “Initial Interview Offer”, “First Round”, “Final Package”, and more 
  • Rows can be different companies or applications 
  • One of the most effective methods of getting an interview offer is through referrals – now is the time to reach out to your network for referral requests! 
  • Even if you feel you don’t have a lot of connections, a great way is to reach out through LinkedIn – you can sort your searches for school alumni working in a certain company, and ask them for any advice or help 
  • Make sure to be genuine when reaching out, and ask politely!
  • Prepare for the application season BEFORE it opens by researching companies and practicing potential interview questions 
  • Visit your school’s career center and attend workshops for further help on resume writing, mock interviews, networking, and more

Balancing Internship Season with School

  • It’s often said that you should treat internship application time almost as a separate class, since applying and maintaining applications while attending interviews can be an extremely time-consuming process 
  • Try to take a slightly lighter course load during the peak application season, which is usually fall semester  
  • Get as much of the application process done beforehand as possible – during the summer, you could try researching and taking notes on how to tailor your resume for different companies, or practice mock interviews  
  • Try to submit applications during small breaks between classes – actual applications only take a short amount of time since they usually just involve a series of questions and uploading a resume  
  • Factor in internship prep as another assignment into your schedule – this way, you won’t fall behind in classwork or preparation  
  • If you’re part of a club or organization, it may be wise to take a break, or decrease your participation so that you have more time for academics  

While it can be very hectic to balance the internship season with school, remember it’s still important to take time to unwind, so you can stay refreshed and energetic amidst all your work!  

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