Four tips for securing a summer internship

I’m always delighted when I open my email and find a message from a current or former student about success in getting published, finding an internship or being hired for a job.

I’ve recently heard from several former students who have been hired for internships for the summer. I asked them to send me advice to share from their own experiences in trying to find an internship.

The ABC News on Campus team from the University of Florida -- Meg Wagner is on the far left. of photo.

Here is the advice from Meg Wagner, who is interning for the New York Times Regional Group, one of several internship offers she received. Prior to this summer internship, Meg had written for The Alligator and The Tampa Tribune and was on the University of Florida news team for ABC News on Campus.

1. Apply for many internships.

I think one of the best pieces of advice I can give is to apply to 
everything you come across. By the end, I probably applied to 30+
 positions. Not only does applying to multiple positions increases your
 odds of getting at least one offer, but it also helps you become more 
comfortable with the whole process.

The cover letters I wrote in April
 were much better than the ones I sent out in November. By the third or 
fourth interview I knew exactly what kind of questions I’d be asked,
 and I felt more comfortable going into them.



2. Follow up on your applications.

A lot of times, I’d have to submit my 
resume and cover letter to generic email address, like
”jobs@placeiwasapplying.com.” I would go days without hearing
 anything. But as soon as I sent a follow up email, I’d get 
confirmation that my application had been received.

Employers want to 
know that you want the job — and being relentless with follow up
really shows that. I would send weekly emails to the companies while 
they processed my application, just checking in and asking them if
they needed any other materials from me. As soon as they emailed me to
schedule an interview, I made sure to respond ASAP to let them know 
that I was very interested and really cared about the position (I have 
email on my phone, so often times it would be minutes after they
 emailed me).



3. Send thank-you notes after interviews.

I sent out thank-you notes religiously, too. With one of my internship interviews, I send thank-you notes to the three people that conducted 
my interview. But I also met a couple people in passing while walking 
around the office — I made sure to send emails to the woman who 
greeted me at the door and the guy I spoke to while I waited for my 
interviewer to arrive, too. You never know — those people might have
 some pull in the decision, too. If you’ve made an effort to reach 
out to them, it could benefit you. Anything that shows that you are 
about the job will help you!



4. Be aware of the internship time frame.


I started panicking mid-March when I didn’t have anything lined up
yet, and I got really concerned when I hadn’t heard anything by
 mid-April. I was packing up my room and getting ready to move out of
 Gainesville for the summer, but I still didn’t have a job for the
 summer.

However, most summer internships don’t start until June, and
 most other schools don’t end their spring term until mid-May. Some
 employers aren’t used to students being free as early as UF students
 are (spring semester is over by the end of April), and many don’t plan too far in advance. Some businesses 
don’t even start thinking about summer interns until late April, 
especially if they don’t need them until June or so.

I was so worried
 that places I applied to in February were ignoring me, when in
actuality, they didn’t even start to look at applications until later
in the year. Of course, some places, especially a lot of larger
 newspapers, hire early (December for summer internships), but the 
majority of companies hire a month or so before they need their 
interns.

Thanks, Meg.

I’d be interested in other tips you would offer from trying to get an internship.

3 comments

  1. These are really great tips. in addition, i’d add: make sure people know you are looking for internships. the same way you would tell friends/teachers/family that you are looking for a job, you should spread the news when looking for an internship. you never know who your former roommates best friend’s cousin knows…. 🙂

    Like

    1. Good point about letting others know that you’re looking for an internship. That kind of personal networking often is one of the most effective ways both to learn of opportunities and then to be selected, as you have that connection.

      Like

      1. The suggestions about thank you letters are also very helpful. Sometimes I forget to suggest that to students who ask me for internship advice/recommendations. Thanks Meg for the advice!
        Bridget Grogan

        Like

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