Discover Student Loans
Discover Student Loans

As a college student, an internship can be invaluable in gaining real-world work experience and improving your odds of landing a job after graduation. According to a study from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, nearly 80% of eligible interns received a job offer and 66% of interns accepted the offer.

The numbers detailing why internships are key for college students are clear, but how to find that competitive internship isn't always as obvious. Here are a few tips that can help give you an edge.

Leverage Your Existing Network

One of the most effective ways to get any position is to have a personal referral. This could include someone who works in the company, a professor who vouches for you or alumni with connections within the organization.

If you do not currently have a LinkedIn® profile, set one up immediately. Should you need help creating your profile, your college career center or a career coach can help you.

Don't Be Afraid to Cold Call

Internships aren't likely going to fall into your lap, which is why you should take the initiative and directly reach out to contacts via phone or email. To reach out to someone, keep your call or email courteous, concise and to the point. Briefly introduce yourself, state your career intentions, and ask if the person has time for a brief discussion to learn about their career path.

Set Up Informational Interviews

Informational interviews are meetings where you pick the brain of someone who works in your desired field. Rather than being interviewed for a job, you're interviewing the other person about what they currently do and how they got there. Informational interviews are not typically formal – they can be a quick phone call or a chat over coffee – and should not take up much time for either person.

The reason these are so effective is because most people are flattered if someone asks them about their career. As a result, they will likely agree to answer a few questions.

Use these interviews as an opportunity to ask about other people you might talk to or resources you can use to find internship leads.

Don't Give Up

The last thing you need to know about getting an internship is that you shouldn't give up if you don't get the first one. Just like finding a job, it can take time.

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