Spring semester is an important time for students hoping to land an internship in the summer. But many college students are not sure where to begin, and when they do, they’re often ill-prepared. As is often the case, a student’s secret to finding an internship are knowledge and  arriving prepared. Instructors, share these hints for helping them find the perfect internship for their career goals.

The internship hunt

The perfect internship could impact your whole career! Your education is an invaluable asset for your future, yet many full-time positions expect recent graduates to also have some solid experience under their belts before they’ll hire them on.

Companies with established internship programs are likely to post the overview of their program year-round and winter break is a great time to get a leg up on the competition. Some companies even begin posting their spring and summer internship openings in the winter and you can start applying asap.

Do your research

You can often find relevant internship listings on the traditional job posting sites, such as LinkedIn, Indeed.com, and Craigslist. But another great place to start is with companies you know you’d love to work for. Head straight to their website and see if they have internships available in your area. If you know of great companies in your area, you can also give them a call to see if they have internships available. It never hurts to try!

Before applying to an internship, it’s best to do your research on:

  • the company’s mission and goals
  • the company’s culture reviews on sites like Glassdoor.com
  • projects that the company is working on
  • what this company is making the news for
  • ways your skills and interests could be an asset at this company

Prepare your materials

Before you can apply to any positions, make sure you have all the required application materials completely polished. Most students know that your resume is one very important step to earning yourself an invitation to be interviewed. But it’s not the only component.

Most positions also require you to supply a cover letter explaining why you would be a good fit. Even if a cover letter is not required, it is highly recommended that you provide one anyways. When everyone’s resumes come in looking very similar, a compelling cover letter may be what gets you the interview.

Create your portfolio

Depending on the career branch, some internships may even ask you to provide writing samples or a portfolio. A portfolio is a professional way of demonstrating your experience that can distinguish you from other candidates. If you’re lucky enough to earn an interview, it’s a good idea to bring in any samples of your work, even if it’s not required.

To learn how to prepare an online portfolio you can share with potential employers, visit “Create an online portfolio to showcase your brilliant work.”

When you do begin to apply to internships, triple check all of your materials and ensure that everything is attached before you submit. More often than not, you only get one chance and you want to make the best first impression. For even more tips on finding and excelling at a great internship, visit the CengageBrainiac blog.

Instructors, what do you recommend for students searching for their first internship? Share your ideas below.