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Internship

How to get an Internship? (4-step guide)

Written by Shefali Sundram

Updated on: 03 Jan 2024

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An internship can be a great way to gain valuable work experience, learn new skills, and build your network. Working for an online education platform gives me frequent opportunities to speak to students about their struggles and success stories. Listening to their experiences and having my own journey, I can say finding and securing your first internship can be challenging, especially when you don’t know where to start.

What do you need to get an internship?

How to create a resume and a cover letter?

How to find an internship?

How to prepare for an interview? 

What are the best ways to get an internship? 

To get an internship, you must start early and network with professionals, find the right opportunities, create a resume and cover letter tailored to the internship role and company, prepare for the interview, and apply.

The article will guide you through the basics of how to get an internship, from creating a resume to getting an internship by cold emailing.

How to get an internship- the basics

Once you’ve decided on your career goals, an internship can be the best opportunity to take a test drive in your chosen field. An internship provides you with valuable work experience. It boosts your resume and makes it easier for you to land your first job out of college.

However, make sure you know your career goals before looking for an internship. At least have the options on your fingers. It’s good if you have a good GPA, but if you’re still trying to improve your GPA, study regularly and practice the previous year’s question papers. You may take the help of one-to-one online tutoring to understand complex concepts and prepare for tests. 

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How to get an internship: Step-by-Step

The process of getting an internship can be divided into four main steps:

  • Create a resume that showcases your skills, education, and achievements.
  • Convince your HR manager with a cover letter that explains why you are interested in the internship and what you can contribute to the organization.
  • Find the right internship opportunity that matches your qualifications, interests, and goals.
  • Prepare for the interview by researching the company, practicing common questions, and following up after the meeting.

Let’s look at each step in more detail.

Step 1: Create a resume

Your resume is the first impression that you make on a potential employer. It is a document that summarises your personal information, work history, education, skills, and accomplishments. Therefore, make a clear, concise, and tailored to the specific internship you are applying for.

What is the importance of a resume?

A resume is important for several reasons:

  • It helps you stand out from other applicants by highlighting your unique strengths and achievements.
  • It showcases your professionalism and communication skills by presenting your information in an organized and structured way.
  • It demonstrates your fit for the internship by matching your skills and qualifications to the requirements and expectations of the employer.
  • It serves as a reference for the interview by providing relevant information and examples that you can use to answer questions and showcase your abilities.

How to create a resume?

An engineer’s resume will undoubtedly vary when compared to the resume of a teacher. There are many ways to create a resume, depending on your field, but here are some general steps that you can follow:

  • Choose a format that suits your situation and preference. 

There are three standard resume formats: chronological, functional, and combination. 

Chronological resumes list your work experience in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent one. 

Functional resumes focus on your skills and abilities rather than your work history.

Combination resumes combine elements of both chronological and functional resumes to highlight both your skills and experience.

  • Include the essential sections that every resume should have. 

These are contact information, summary or objective statement, education, work experience, skills, and achievements. If relevant to the internship, you can also add optional sections such as volunteer work, certifications, awards, hobbies, or languages.

  • Use keywords and phrases that match the internship description.

Keywords are words or phrases that describe the skills, qualifications, or responsibilities the employer seeks. You can find them in the internship description or on the company website. Using keywords can help you tailor your resume to the specific internship, making it more likely to pass through applicant tracking systems (ATS). These software tools scan resumes for keywords and filter out unqualified candidates.

  • Proofread and edit your resume for errors and inconsistencies. 

Before sending your resume, check it for spelling, grammar, punctuation, formatting, and accuracy. Discrepancies in resumes can be harmful when looking for a prospect of employment. If you find any spelling or grammatical errors, fix them right away.

Step 2: Convince your HR manager with a cover letter

A cover letter is a document that accompanies your resume when you apply for an internship. It is a letter introducing yourself to the employer and explaining why you are interested in the internship and what you can offer the organization. A good cover letter should be persuasive, personalized, and professional.

How to write a cover letter?

There are many ways to write a cover letter, but here are some general steps that you can follow:

  • Choose the right structure.

An internship application cover letter usually follows this format:

Header: This includes your contact information, name, email address, and phone number. You can also include your LinkedIn profile URL if you have one.

Salutation: This is a greeting addressed to the hiring manager or recruiter. You can find the hiring manager’s name on the job posting or by doing a quick Google search.

Opening paragraph: This is where you introduce yourself and state why you are interested in the position. You can also highlight your relevant skills and experience to the job.

Body paragraphs: In the body paragraphs, you should provide more details about your skills and experience. You can also discuss your accomplishments and how you would be a valuable asset to the company.

Closing paragraph: This is where you reiterate your interest in the position and thank the hiring manager for their time. You can also include a call to action, such as asking for an interview.

Complimentary closing: This is a formal way of ending your letter. You can use phrases like “Sincerely” or “Best regards.”

  • Focus on essentials 

Some essential parts of a cover letter include the proper salutation and description of your skills and prospects. You can also add optional parts such as enclosures or postscripts if they are relevant to the internship. This helps build a more promising image in front of the HR assessing your resume.

  • Proofread and recheck. 

Check your cover letter for spelling, grammar, punctuation, formatting, and accuracy before sending it. You can use online tools such as Grammarly or Hemingway Editor to assist you. You can also have someone else review and provide feedback on your cover letter.

What are the Format rules?

There are some general rules that you should follow when formatting your cover letter:

  • Use a standard font size and style, such as 12-point Arial or Times New Roman.
  • Use single or 1.15 line spacing and one-inch margins on all sides.
  • Align your text to the left and use a clear and consistent structure.
  • Keep your cover letter to one page or less unless otherwise specified by the employer.
  • Use a professional and appropriate tone and language, avoiding slang, jargon, or humor.
  • If possible, address your cover letter to a specific person or use a generic salutation such as “Dear Hiring Manager” or “To Whom It May Concern.”
  • Include your contact information at the top of the page, followed by the date and the employer’s contact information.
  • End your cover letter with a complimentary close, such as “Sincerely” or “Best regards,” followed by your name and signature.

Step 3: Find the right internship opportunity

The internship should complement your qualifications, goals, and career. Hence, it is important to look for it in the right places. However, there are some strategies that you can use to make your search easier and more effective.

Consider your qualifications

Before looking for internships, consider your qualifications, skills, education, experience, interests, and goals. These factors help narrow your options and focus on the most suitable internships. You can use online tools such as CareerExplorer or My Next Move to help you assess your qualifications and discover potential career paths.

Use the best ways to find internships

There are many ways to find internships, but here are some of the best ones:

  • Use online platforms that specialize in internships. 

Many websites offer internship listings, such as Indeed, Glassdoor, Internships.com, WayUp, Chegg Internships, LinkedIn, and more. You can use these platforms to search for internships by location, industry, duration, type, or keyword. You can also create a profile and upload your resume and cover letter to apply for internships directly on these platforms.

  • Attend career fairs and events. 

Career fairs and events are opportunities to meet with employers and recruiters looking for interns. You can learn about career fairs and events through your school, local community, professional associations, or online platforms. 

  • Network with people who work in or have connections with your field of interest. 

Networking is one of the most effective ways to find internships because it can help you access hidden opportunities not advertised publicly. You can network with people who work in or have connections with your field of interest through various channels, such as alumni associations, mentors, professors, classmates, friends, family members, social media groups, online forums, or professional organizations. 

  • Create your internship opportunity. 

Suppose you have a specific idea of what kind of internship you want to do or what kind of organization you want to work for. Still, you cannot find any existing opportunities that match your criteria. In that case, you can create your internship opportunity. 

You can do this by contacting an organization you are interested in and proposing an internship project that would benefit you and them. You can explain what skills and experience you have that would make you a valuable intern. You can also outline your goals and objectives for the internship project and how you plan to achieve them.

Step 4: Prepare for interview

To clear your interview like you know your job, you should research the company and the role, practice common interview questions and answers, dress professionally, arrive on time, and follow up with a thank-you note.

  • Do your research

Before the interview, take some time to research the company and the position you are applying for. This will help you to answer questions intelligently and show the interviewer that you are genuinely interested in the job.

  • Be prepared to answer common interview questions. 

There are some common interview questions that you can expect to be asked. Take some time to prepare your answers to these questions so that you can give clear and concise answers.

5 of the most common interview questions are:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why are you interested in this role/company?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Tell us about a challenging task that taught you something important.
  • What’s been most challenging so far?
  • Dress professionally. 

First impressions matter, so make sure to dress professionally for your interview. Your professionalism must radiate through your dress. This doesn’t mean you must wear a suit, but you should dress in clean, neat, and wrinkle-free clothing.

  • Be “before time.” 

Punctuality is important, so arrive for your interview fifteen minutes in advance. If you are running late, call the interviewer as soon as possible to let them know.

  • Be confident. 

Confidence is vital in an interview. When you are confident, you will project a positive image and make a good impression on the interviewer.

  • Be yourself. 

Don’t try to be someone you’re not in an interview. The interviewer wants to get to know you, so be yourself and let your personality shine through.

  • Follow up after the interview. 

After the interview, send a thank-you note to the interviewer. This is a great way to reiterate your interest in the job and thank them for their time.

Where to search for internships?

Many websites can help you find an internship, such as:

  1. Indeed: You can search for internships by location, industry, or keyword and filter by paid or unpaid, part-time or full-time, or remote or in-person options.
  2. LinkedIn: You can create a profile, network with professionals, and browse internships by company, location, or field.
  3. Glassdoor: You can read reviews, ratings, and salaries of companies and search for internships by keyword, location, or industry.
  4. Monster: Create a profile, choose how many internship offers you want per day, and choose the type of internship offer.

How to get a paid internship?

The steps to get an internship remain the same as above. Here is a summary of the steps to find a paid internship:

  1. Search for the right opportunities: Use online platforms, such as Indeed, LinkedIn, or Glassdoor, to find internships that match your criteria. You can also use your network, such as professors, mentors, or alums, to get referrals or recommendations.
  2. Network: Networking is a great way to learn about internship opportunities. Talk to your professors, friends, family, and former classmates to see if they know of any openings for paid internships.
  3. Apply with a tailored resume and cover letter: Highlight your relevant skills, achievements, and interests in your resume and cover letter. Customize them for each internship you apply for, and use keywords from the job description.
  4. Prepare for the interview: Research the company and the role, practice common interview questions and answers, dress professionally, and follow up with a thank-you note.

How do you get an internship by cold emailing the company directly?

To get an internship by cold emailing the company directly, you should:

  1. Find the right person to contact: Use LinkedIn or the company website to find the name and email address of the hiring manager or someone who works in the department you are interested in.
  2. Write a catchy subject line: Use a clear, concise subject line that states your purpose and grabs attention. 

For example: “Interested in an internship at XYZ Company” or “Seeking advice from a marketing expert.”

  1. Request to set up a call/interview: Once you get a proper response from the prospective company or personnel, you can request them to set up a call/interview to assess your skills and personality better and decide whether you are suited for the job.

Key takeaways on how to get an internship

Some of the important tips on how to get an internship are:

✅ Identify your goals and skills.

Consider what you want to learn from the internship, what skills you offer, and what kind of compensation you need.

✅ Search for opportunities.

Use online platforms like Indeed, LinkedIn, or Glassdoor to find internships that match your criteria. You can also use your network, such as professors, mentors, or alums, to get referrals or recommendations.

✅ Apply with a tailored resume and cover letter.

Highlight your relevant skills, achievements, and interests in your resume and cover letter. Customize them for each internship you apply for, and use keywords from the job description.

✅ Prepare for the interview.

Research the company and the role, practice common interview questions and answers, dress professionally, arrive on time, and follow up with a thank-you note.

✅ Cold email the company directly

Find the right person to contact, write a catchy subject line, introduce yourself and state your value proposition, ask for a call or a meeting, and close with a call to action and a signature.

Related stories on how to get an internship

Here are some exclusive internship stories on how to get an internship to inspire you:

How to get an internship with NO experience || beginner’s guide for college students

How I got my first internship (software engineering)

How to Find an Internship as an International Student | The Intern Queen

How can I get an internship with no experience?

You can get an internship without experience by focusing on transferable skills, such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, or creativity. 
You can also showcase your academic achievements, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, or personal projects demonstrating your potential and interest in the field.

How to get an internship without a degree?

Follow these steps to get an internship without a degree: 

Start early. The best time to start looking for internships is in the fall before most students apply.
Network. Talk to your friends, family, and teachers to see if they know of any internship opportunities. Attend industry events and meetups to meet people who work in your desired field.
Volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to gain experience and build your skills. It can also help you make connections that could lead to an internship.
Take relevant courses. If you’re not in school, take online classes or workshops to learn the skills employers seek.
Build your portfolio. Create a portfolio of your work to show potential employers what you can do. This could include projects you’ve worked on in school, personal projects, or volunteer work.
Tailor your resume and cover letter to each internship you apply for. Highlight the skills and experiences that are relevant to the position.
Practice your interviewing skills. The more you practice, the more confident you’ll be during your interviews.

How to get an internship in college?

Follow these steps to get an internship in college: 

Use your college’s career center. Your college’s career center should have a list of student internship opportunities. They can also help you with your resume, cover letter, and interview skills.
Talk to your professors. Your professors may know of internship opportunities or be able to connect you with someone who does.
Attend job fairs. Job fairs are a great way to meet potential employers and learn about internship opportunities.
Apply online. Many companies post internship opportunities on their websites.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’re struggling to find an internship, don’t hesitate to ask your friends, family, professors, or career counselor for help.

How to get an internship in high school?

Follow these steps to get an internship in high school: 

Start early. The earlier you start looking for internships, the more likely you are to find one.
Talk to your teachers and guidance counselor. They may know of internship opportunities or be able to connect you with someone who does.
Look for opportunities in your community. Many businesses and organizations offer internships to high school students.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’re struggling to find an internship, don’t be afraid to ask your friends, family, teachers, or guidance counselor for help.

What are the best skills to put on a resume?

The best skills to put on a resume depend on the type and level of the internship you are applying for. However, some of the general skills that most employers value are:
Technical skills: These are the hard skills that are specific to the field or industry you are interested in, such as programming languages, software applications, data analysis, or design tools.
Soft skills: These are the skills that relate to your personality, attitude, and behavior, such as communication, teamwork, leadership, adaptability, or work ethic.

How to get the most out of your internship?

To get the most out of your internship, you should:
Set clear and realistic goals: Before you start your internship, discuss with your supervisor what you want to achieve and learn from the experience.
Seek feedback and guidance: Ask your supervisor and colleagues for regular feedback and guidance during your internship. Learn from their suggestions and insights, and apply them to improve your performance and skills.
Take initiative and responsibility: Show your enthusiasm and interest by taking initiative and responsibility for your tasks and projects. 

References

Elsie Boskamp, 20 + Compelling Internship Statistics [2023]: Data, Pay, and Trends. (n.d.). Retrieved May 8, 2023, from https://www.zippia.com/advice/internship-statistics/

Written by

Shefali Sundram

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