Can't Find the Perfect Internship? Make Your Own
Good internships can be difficult to find. Maybe you want to do something more valuable with your time than pouring coffee and making photocopies. Or maybe you can’t find an internship in the industry or career path you want. If that’s the case, it’s possible—even in a bad economy—to make your own internship position. If you want to convince a company to hire you as an intern, here are a few steps to take.
Know what you want—and whether it’s realistic
What kind of internship do you want? If you’re going to take this route, you’re going to have to sell your idea to someone in a company who will make the decision to create an internship for you—so you’ll have to be specific. Know what kind of company you want to work for and why—and what kind of work you want to do. Bear in mind that if you’re looking for an internship that will give you a lot of responsibility right away, your hopes may be a bit unrealistic—have an idea of what’s expected of interns.
Getting an internship is like getting any job in a difficult economy—it’s not easy, but it’s a lot easier if you know someone. If you want to create your own internships, network. Start by talking to people who work for companies you’d want to work for. Talk to neighbors, family members, friends, parents of friends, classmates—anyone you already know who could help you. Explain the type of work you’d like to do, why the company would be crazy not to hire you—and ask them if they can help.
It’s not easy to find the perfect internship—and many students settle for less-than-perfect opportunities because their ideal internship isn’t available. If that happens to you, don’t settle—create your own opportunity.
Start by researching the companies you want to work for. It’s not enough to know why you want to work for those companies—you have to know why they need you to work for them. Could they benefit from your cutting-edge social media savvy, your ability to speak multiple languages, or your technical skill? What do you have to offer as an intern?
Know who to talk to
Human resources is a good place to start—and of course, if you know someone in the company personally, you should definitely apply to them. But if you’re not sure, consider submitting an application to the head of the department you’d likely work for or possibly the CEO, depending on the size of the company, as well as the human resources office. Do some research to find out who the best contacts in each company would be.
Write your resume and cover letter
Your cover letter should be targeted to each company you apply to. It should explain how you could add value to the company as an intern. Tell them why you’ve chosen that company and why you think they can help you in giving a valuable career experience—as well as how you could benefit them. Naturally, the person reading will think “but we don’t hire interns!” You’ll need to show you’re aware of that—and demonstrate your intention to persuade them to hire you as its first.
Don’t blow the interview
If you’re lucky enough to get called in to an interview, be prepared. The company likely won’t have any steps to help structure the internship—so make it easier for them. Draw up a list of criteria with which to evaluate you; provide a suggested schedule and job description; and make the interviewer aware that these are all merely suggestions. In addition, be sure you conform to the company dress code in the interview—and bear in mind that if the company tends to be casual, overdressed is better than underdressed in any interview situation.
It’s not easy to find the perfect internship—and many students settle for less-than-perfect opportunities because their ideal internship isn’t available. If that happens to you, don’t settle—create your own opportunity. Research the companies you’d like to work for, refine your ideas for your ideal internship’s job description, and be prepared to tell companies exactly why they need you as an intern. Talk to anyone you know who might be able to help you—and connect with company human resources departments and department heads. Creating your own internship might be more difficult than taking a ready-made opportunity—but it can be very rewarding.
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