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How to Land a Killer Internship

By Maurie Backman – Jul 25, 2017 at 6:03AM

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You never know what opportunities the right internship might produce. Here's how to get your foot in the door.

An internship is more than just a great way to earn some college credit and amass some impressive experience to list on your resume. In some cases, an internship might open the door to full-time employment. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 60% of college internships wind up turning into full-time job offers. If you're looking to score a fantastic internship amid your education pursuits, here's how to do it.

1. Start looking early

Internships tend to fill up quickly, as there's often a greater supply of willing students than an actual demand for cheap or unpaid labor. Find out when local companies kick off the process, and get your applications in as soon as possible.

College intern at an office


2. Network

Though you might find a host of internship opportunities through your college's career center, some companies have their own way of advertising open positions. Others, in fact, may not list their internship opportunities publicly, at all. Networking is an effective way to land a job, and internships can work in a similar manner. That's why it pays to reach out to your professors, family members, old neighbors, and friends who have already graduated to see if anyone knows of an opportunity and might help you get your foot in the door.

3. Apply to more than one position

Chances are, you didn't just submit a single college application during your senior year of high school, cross your fingers, and hope for the best. Similarly, you should avoid putting all of your eggs into one basket in your quest for a fabulous internship. While you may have your heart set on a particular role or company, be sure to apply to a host of opportunities to increase your chances of getting picked.

Along these lines, make sure you're actually qualified for the internships you're hoping to snag. If your local bank is only willing to take finance majors, and you're pursuing a degree in art history, your chances of landing the gig are pretty slim, so be sure to pursue other options, as well.

4. Keep tweaking your resume and cover letters

It stands to reason that, if you're applying to work at both a newspaper and a financial firm, you shouldn't use the same cover letter for both gigs. Yet a surprising number of students are lazy with their cover letters and don't make any effort to tailor them to the roles they're seeking. If you really want to increase your chances of landing an internship, be prepared to put some time into the letters you're sending out.

Furthermore, be sure to tweak your resume, as needed, to highlight the skills that are most relevant to the gigs you're hoping to snag. If you're majoring in both English and management, play up your verbal prowess for that newspaper job, but focus on analytics and number crunching when applying for that financial position. It may require some more work on your part, but it'll be well worth the effort if it gets you hired.

5. Seek advice from those who've done it before

Perhaps your roommate's brother had a great internship at your local ad agency back when he was a college senior. Or maybe you know someone who once interned at the consulting firm you're applying to. It never hurts to pick the brains of those who were successful in landing the internships you're hoping to score, and see what qualities set them apart. A few key points of advice might give you the advantage you need to edge out the competition.

The right internship could end up becoming your first job out of college, so landing that opportunity is crucial. Follow these tips, and the perfect internship could soon be yours -- as long as you're willing to make the effort.

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