Summer Internship Search: How to Find Internships in a Virtual World
To the person on the other side of the screen, don’t get discouraged during this time. Internships are a place to get real work experience before entering the job market, but amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, finding jobs for college students is a deep struggle. In this article, I will discuss some tips and tricks to remember when applying for and finding that coveted summer internship.
Where do I begin?
When beginning your search for internships you should start by doing some research on what companies and specific programs sound applicable to you and your major. Doing this initial research will help you form a basic understanding of how your strengths and knowledge could thrive in a professional setting. It’s never too early to start doing research for possible internships. Even if you are currently an underclassman, making yourself open to opportunities early on will allow you to get a taste of what you are looking for in the future. Come junior year, you will be fully prepared to put your best foot forward. As a junior myself, researching internships is a continuous process. At least once a day I’m looking to see if there are any opportunities I would be interested in, and also would be qualified to apply for.
Perfecting the Resume
The resume is the first thing a company or recruiter looks at when reviewing your application. Make sure your resume is clean and easy to read. Try to get 2-3 different people to review your resume such as a friend, a parent, or an adviser that can give you honest feedback to make this document better. When it comes to work experience, be clear and concise when stating job details. Examples and soft skills are also important to add when writing your resume. Of course, explain what your job entailed but add more specific detail to give a recruiter a better understanding of your experience. If you haven’t had an internship yet, don’t be discouraged. Add any part-time job in high school or leadership positions in college to show what skills you possess. The resume is the first impression most recruiters will have before they choose you for an interview, so make sure to give your best effort into crafting this document.
Use your Resources
As a Virginia Tech student, there are so many resources available to us that we can take advantage of. For example, I have had the best luck in finding job postings on LinkedIn, Handshake, and Indeed. RippleMatch is another great website that matches your qualifications and interest to the best postings and jobs that might be the best fit for you. These websites are a great tool to start, but it doesn’t mean it will be smooth sailing from the beginning.
Keep your options open
There is never such a thing as having too many doors open when it comes to summer internships, but starting small is always a good step. After doing some research and having your LinkedIn updated, start by applying to one job a day. Typically for summer internships, most larger companies open applications in July or August. So mid-summer time is perfect for updating your resume in order to be ready to apply. Keep in mind that most applications are rolling, so the sooner you apply the better. When filling out your application take your time and make sure you answer each question to the best of your ability. After you hit that submit button keep an eye out for emails and links to portals to check the status of your application. The number of applications should ultimately depend on your major and options available based on where you would like to be located. However, this year most programs are still virtual so don’t be shy about applying somewhere out of your comfort zone. When looking for more job opportunities, I created job alerts on various websites that will send me an email when a new posting goes public. This way it will allow you to put yourself out there and be ready to apply quickly.
What happens next?
After those applications are filled out, the waiting and anticipation is the worst part. Be patient during this time, stay proactive, and always keep an eye open for any opportunity that comes your way. There is no set number of internships you should apply for, so never stop looking until you get that offer. Then comes the interview phase. Once you get that email request, make sure to analyze your calendar and pick a time if possible where you have enough time to thoroughly prepare for the interview.
Interviews can be nerve-racking, but ultimately make sure you express who you are to the employer. Prior to an interview ask a friend, mentor, or parent to run possible questions for you. This way you have possible ideas and examples in your head to say in the interview. The more you explain your background and interest in the company the better. Before the pandemic, most interviews would be in person and you would be asked to come into the office. While this is not normally the case these days, don’t fall for the false belief that your appearance and body language don’t matter online. When it comes to virtual interviews, make sure to have a good wifi connection, a quiet place, and dress business professional. Just because you are doing the interview from your house doesn’t mean it’s less official or less serious. Maintaining eye contact is also important and can be difficult when staring at your screen, but try your best to stare at the camera to maintain eye contact. Lastly, you should always have questions prepared to ask the interviewer either about the program itself, the company, or them personally. These questions allow you to get a better understanding and express your continued interest in the company. Emma Harwood, Editor-in-Chief states that “One thing that helps calm my nerves before an interview is knowing that the employer was clearly impressed by my application. Remind yourself that they already like you and see you as a good fit for the position! As long as you portray that same energy and abilities in the interview, you will have nothing to worry about.”
Following up is your friend
After you end your interview, you should send a thank you email and connect with them on LinkedIn. Typically you should do this a couple of hours after your interview or at maximum a day later. This way you express your gratitude for the time the person spent with you, but also keep your name on their radar when making that decision. If possible, send a physical, personalized thank you note; this will show the company you are going the extra mile to express your gratitude.
Finding a summer internship is an excellent way to prepare for the workforce and apply your classroom knowledge to the real world. Internships can often lead to full time offers too!. It may feel daunting and overwhelming at times, but never give up and stay positive. This year has definitely been more difficult than most but by continuing to apply and putting your best foot forward something amazing will come out of it for you.
By: Sarah Viebrock