Updated: Mar 01, 2018
Helping your child land an internship during college can sometimes change how successful their job search is after graduation. In fact, a report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that students who had paid or unpaid internships received more frequent job offers than those who did not. Your student should expect the search to find an internship in college to be competitive and approach internship applications like they would a job application.
Helping your college student find the right internship can require a polished résumé, shining reference letters and a smooth interview. These tips will help you show your child how to find an internship in college.
The easiest place for your child to start their search is online. Check sites like Internship.com, WayUp.com and Idealist.org regularly for new opportunities. They can also utilize their browser's search engine to find internships that might not be as widely advertised. They can simply search for their major or field-of-study internships in a specific city (e.g., journalism internships Los Angeles). Encourage your child to research and apply for remote internships if there are not many local opportunities available.
Colleges often have on-campus recruiting events which can help students talk with several interested companies in one day. Your child should dress nicely and have copies of their updated résumé ready. Encourage your student to ask several companies at the event about internship opportunities and to follow up with their favorite companies shortly after the event.
Your student's academic adviser is also a great resource on how to find an internship in college. Professors and advisers love working with students and know of several internships and opportunities available, especially since local businesses may contact the university directly when looking to fill internship positions. Your child's professors and adviser are also excellent resources for recommendation letters, which can boost their internship application.
When your child is figuring out how to find an internship in college, they might find that the internships within their field of study are highly competitive. For example, if your child is a journalism major and internships with notable magazines and newspapers are flooded with applicants, they can still get valuable writing experience by interning with a small business or corporation. There they might write the company's newsletters and update the company's blog and social media channels. Brainstorming this way about how their major can be applied to other industries or fields can open up internship opportunities.
The point is for your child not to feel limited by the typical internships in any major. When your child aligns their internship with different industries, they can discover new career fields to potentially pursue after graduation, as well as strengthen other skills.
You probably have more business connections than you think through your friends, family and years of work experience. These can be useful to your child while learning how to find an internship in college. When Gary Nosacek, a father with 30 years of radio experience, noticed a new Christian rock radio station went on air, he encouraged his daughter, Elizabeth, to inquire about internship opportunities. A marketing major in her junior year at the time, Elizabeth wasn't interested in rock music. But, she and her father both agreed that it might be easier to land an internship at a new station rather than one that was already well-established and most likely well-staffed.
Even though Nosacek was no longer working in radio, he still had contacts in the industry and knew the new station's program director. That connection helped his daughter land a meeting, which led to an internship to run the station's promotion department. The position gave Elizabeth strong work experience in marketing, which included handing out merchandise at community events and conducting audience research through phone calls. She now has a marketing job with Mazda.
Reach out to current and past connections and inquire if there are any open internship positions for your child. Know that your job is only to help connect your child with potential opportunities. It will be up to your child to secure the internship through their interview and to excel once there.
Even though it should seem like common sense, your child might not understand how much their résumé or social media presence can impact an internship and job search. According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, 70 percent of employers use social media to screen candidates before hiring. Encourage your student to clean up social media accounts by taking down photos and posts that are inappropriate or demonstrate strong political opinions.
Help your student polish their résumé with strong detail of their past jobs. For example, instead of just listing "barista" and "served customers coffee," they could expand more on their experience by saying, "served more than 100 customers daily and trained new employees" Also, your student might not think about it, but their volunteer hours at church or the local animal shelter can definitely bolster a beginner's résumé.
The job market is a competitive one and internships can help your child gain a creative and professional edge over other graduates. These tips should help you both narrow down the best ways to find an internship in college. After all, the right internship can strengthen your child's work ethic, help them make valuable professional connections and give them insight into the industry they are pursuing.