Internships have become a crucial part of one’s professional journey. They provide great experience, mentorship, networking opportunities and so much more! Each of my internships have left me with even more of an understanding of what career I hope to have but most importantly they have taught me about what I bring to the work environment. I believe that this takeaway is one of the most important things you can get from an internship; it prepares you for the question that you will often get when seeking out other internships or jobs. The question of Why You?
Prior to this summer, all the internships I had ever acquired were with the help of programs and organizations that I was part of: the Sadie Nash Leadership Project, the Young Women’s Leadership Network and the I Have a Dream Foundation. They helped me secure 4 amazing internships over the years (The New York State Youth Leadership Council, Coach, INC., the Center for Court Innovation, NYC Council Member Helen Rosenthal). However, I did not have to do all the hard work of finding these placements thanks to the relationships my programs had built and maintained with the different internship placements.
While I did have the support of the I Have a Dream Foundation with my internship search for Summer 2017, I secured three internships ALL on my own and you can do the same!
Here’s some things you can to do :
- THERE’S POWER IN NUMBERS: Apply to internships with a group of friends. When I say this, I mean coordinate with your friends and schedule times in your calendar to simply work on internships whether that be researching or applying to internships. Applying to internships became as important as doing homework for me and my friends and it was possible because of time management. My friends provided me with constant SUPPORT which was crucial for my success. Just remember, you are not alone in the process!!
- RESEARCH RESEARCH AND MORE RESEARCH: There are so many internships out there, you just have to find them. I did my research according to positions and fields that I was interested in which were politics, public relations and media. For example, my search box would look like this: Public Relations Summer 2017 intern New York, NY. I used Google, Internships.com, Indeed, Idealist, LinkedIn, and my college’s career services website. I spent weeks just looking through internship postings and I wrote all the ones that caught my attention down, even if they were in a field that I was not previously looking into. When doing research, keep an open mind.
- STAY ORGANIZED: I dedicated a cute notebook just for my internship search. I like to write things down and have information in multiple places so this was extremely helpful. I wrote down the names of internships, the information of their HR people, deadlines and due dates for the applications, requirements. This helped me stay on track and focused because whenever I saw the book when I had free time, I knew there was an internship I could be applying to or looking up. Besides having a notebook, I created a table to organize all the info that I wrote down and it was the best. Everything was so cohesive and easy to keep track of. Find the best system to keep all your internship related information in one place!
- PERFECT YOUR RESUME AND COVER LETTER: When applying to internships, I had a resume and cover letter. I had different ones for applying to political, public relations and media internships. In order to perfect my resume and cover letter, I had my resume and cover letter reviewed by a staff member at my school’s Center for Career and Professional Advising. If you do not have access to a career services center, find a mentor, upperclassmen or any professional to review your resume or cover letter. While writing cover letters can be a tedious task, take the time to write one that reflects your experiences, interests and abilities.
- WHEN IN DOUBT, JUST APPLY: I applied to almost ALL the internships that I qualified for and the ones that also aligned with my interests. Some days, I found myself frustrated after spending hours applying to internships and not hearing anything back but I wanted to have options especially since internships have become extremely competitive. I applied to over 30 internships and heard back from about 5 of them. The worst thing that could happen when applying for an internship is that you do not get it but if you do not even apply, you no longer have the option of getting the internship of your dreams. SO APPLY APPLY APPLY. You won’t regret it.
- FOLLOW UP: Since I kept a organizational system for applying to internships, I knew the date I applied to each internship. If I did not hear back within 3–4 weeks, I would send a follow-up email notifying them of when I sent my resume/cover letter or application as well as a statement reiterating my interest. Companies and organizations often get a plethora of applications and you may stand out even more when they see your name frequently and see that you are still interested in the opportunity. Follow-ups should also occur after an interview. For example, I was interviewed by two individuals at a company via phone. I made sure to ask them questions specifically about their experiences and how they landed their jobs while taking notes throughout the interview. This was helpful when writing the thank you notes; I was able to personalize each note while expressing my gratitude. Thank you notes are a MUST.
- STAY POSITIVE: While I did not hear back from all of the internships I applied to, I did receive a few rejections. After receiving those rejections, I became extremely discouraged and took a break from applying to internships. I was able to get back on track with the help of supportive friends, family and mentors around me who helped me realize that there were plenty more opportunities out there for me. I had to answer the question Why Me? for myself. Once I did this, my confidence improved. All the internships that I secured for the summer occurred after I jumped back from my internship slump. I came back with nothing but positivity which is what you should have throughout your entire process.
- USE YOUR CONNECTIONS: Your connections are everyone that you know. Let them know that your’re searching for internships in a specific area and also tell them about the ones that you have applied to or will apply to. You never know who they know or what opportunities they are aware of and can refer you to. I secured one of my internships through a connection. On a random day, my mentor and I were speaking, doing a simple check-in and I informed her about my internship search and casually discussed interviews I had lined up for the week. To my surprise, the president of the company I had an interview with is a friend of my mentor. My mentor was able to write a reference on my behalf and helped me increase my chances of receiving the internship. I was able to secure this internship for the summer. I did not expect to secure an internship through a connection. If possible, you should do the same.
This summer I am an Associate at Arielle-Wren, Policy Intern at Techrow and Program Fellow at VoteRunLead. I am beyond happy with all of these opportunities and I am extremely grateful for everyone that supported and assisted me with my internship search.
While this article is about how I landed three internships, I would like to note that three internships is not the norm and may not be the right option for everyone. I hope I was able to provide insight and helpful tips for obtaining any internship. I wish you all the best of luck with your search and with your internships throughout the summer.