What you need in order to land a coveted summer internship

Getting an internship during your undergraduate career is one of the best things you can do to get started in your career field.

Taking classes is only one part of your education and college experience, it’s important to also get real life work experience as well. Many will tell you that it doesn’t matter what you learned in class but how you apply it in real life. Often times, what you learn in your classes won’t even stick until you’ve applied it to a tangible project.

Landing a great summer internship isn’t impossible but it won’t be easy. With the competition these days, even unpaid internships at top companies are hard to get.

According a 2014 survey done by the National Association of College and Employers (NACE),  61% of students had completed an internship or co-op during college. In addition to just having those internships under their belt, 52% of grads had job offers upon graduation that had completed internships. Also, grads who were able to complete paid internships demanded higher starting salaries than those who worked for no pay.



This shows us that getting a top notch internship improves your chances of launching a successful career.

What do you need to land the summer internship of your dreams?

1.      A strong network – There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being placed in a position because you have a connection. The entire point of networking is then leveraging those contacts to get to the next level. Don’t go around to everyone you’ve ever met asking for handouts but something as simple as asking who you should address your cover letter to can make a difference. Map out who can help you at each company and ask them to review your application materials – some may even refer you!


2.      Experience – We live in a time when you need to have a job to get a job. There was a time when you could work at a summer camp each year until the semester started but that’s no longer the case. If you’re in college, it’s a given that you’re taking classes – everyone is. But everyone isn’t getting experience in their field and completing real projects. Even if you have to work a remote, unpaid internship, it still counts and looks impressive that it isn’t your first work experience.


RELATED: 5 ways to optimize your LinkedIn profile to stand out to recruiters


3.      Side Hustle – What’s more impressive than an applicant with relevant experience? An applicant who created their own platform to get relevant experience. If you have a blog, niche social media account, podcast, YouTube channel, etc. link it on your resume or talk about it in your cover letter. Use your side projects to set you apart from other students.


4.      LinkedIn profile/Personal Website – If your resume and hard copy portfolio is the only way a recruiter can see your work and experience, you are already behind. It’s important these days that you are building an online presence, branding yourself on social media, and leaving a digital footprint. Use sites like About.me, Pressfolio, Squarespace, and WordPress to showcase your work and link to your resume. The easier you make it for someone to find you, the more likely they will be to hire you.


Where do you even begin looking for an internship?

1.      Company career page

All jobs won’t be posted on general sites like Monster or Indeed so if you know you have an interest in a company, look directly on their website. While you’re at it, you can also get a better sense of who they are and if you’d be a good fit.


2.      LinkedIn

LinkedIn job boards can be extremely helpful. LinkedIn does a great job at showing you what connections or potential connections you have at a company and it’s a great way for you to reach out to someone on the team or in HR and ask questions before you apply. Taking the time to make sure you’re getting it right before you apply can go a long way.


3.      Indeed

Set up alerts through Indeed for specific job openings and you’ll get emails every time a new job is posted that you qualify for. Indeed has hundreds of new postings each day, but setting up alerts can allow you to be the first to apply via Indeed. Most recruiters don’t want to be interviewing forever so being the first in is definitely an advantage.


4.      Career Fairs/Career Services

Don’t underestimate the power of the resources you have on campus. Attend workshops on resume and cover letter writing through Career Services and use their reps to connect you with recruiters in the area. Getting face time with representatives at companies is valuable as well, so don’t be afraid to take the day off and attend the career fair to find new opportunities.

“You’re seeing really growing demand for interns and at the same time internships proving increasingly difficult to land. You see this surprising level of specificity,” Matt Sigelman, CEO of Burning Glass Technologies, told U.S. News. Burning Glass is a technology job-matching firm.

 “It really challenges the notion that an internship is something that you go off to [in order to] learn job skills. It really feels increasingly like you’re expected to have the job skills that get you the internship that gets you the job,” explained Sigelman.


What strategies do you use to land your summer internships?