Beginning your internship search? Watch these three videos to get started! For more information, click on the links below.
1. Why should I do an internship?
2. When should I do an internship?
3. What should I consider when looking for internships?
4. How do I search for opportunities?
5. How can I stay organized while I search and apply for internships?
6. How do I write my resume and cover letter?
7. How should I prepare for interviews?
An internship provides relevant, real world work experience in a career field of interest. Internships are a valuable way to learn about a job or career and determine if it is a good “fit” for your skills and interests. During your internship you learn things about an industry and job function that you could never learn without seeing and doing the work every day. You will also meet people who can help you connect to other companies, industries or job functions that interest you.
Having an internship on your resume demonstrates that you have work-related knowledge and skills, increases your marketability and, if you perform well in your internship, offers you the opportunity to land a full-time job at your internship site.
It’s never too early to do an internship! You can start as early as the summer after your first year of college, but it’s crucial for you to have a solid, well-targeted internship the summer after your junior year. You should aim to have at least two internships before you graduate.
A common misconception among college students is that you can only do internships during the summer, but there are many great internship opportunities in Winston-Salem, Greensboro and High Point during the school year. Check DeaconSource for the latest listing of internships in the area or review the list of Wake Forest internship programs to see if there’s a program that fits your goals and interests.
Before you start your search, create a list of your most important criteria for an internship. Talk with a career counselor who can help you determine a strategy for your internship search. Consider:
- Pay: Do you need to be paid for your internship or can you take an unpaid position? If taking an unpaid internship is possible, you will find more potential opportunities. If the internship is not paid, can you receive academic credit for your internship?
- Location: Where do you want to work? Should you go back to your hometown and live with your family? Can you live in a different city if you find inexpensive housing?
- Career Industry or Function: What industry and/or job function do you want to target? Are you aware of all of the possible options? What is the best way to learn more about your industries or functions of choice?
- Timing/Deadlines: While it’s never too early to start looking for an internship, there are a few important issues to be aware of:
- For some extraordinarily competitive fields like investment banking or consulting, you must plan ahead and compete to get relevant summer internships during the summers after sophomore and junior year. In many cases, firms in these industries look for a 3.5 GPA or higher.
- Government agencies like the CIA, NSA, and the State Department require background checks that can take months. As a result, the deadline for summer internships is in the fall of the year before the internship. (e.g. The application deadline for a summer 2012 internship could be as early as October 1, 2011.)
- Organization: What kind of culture are you looking for? Will you receive much manager attention and guidance from your supervisor? Will there be an opportunity to develop a relationship with a mentor?
Now that you have a better idea of what kind of internship you’re looking for, check out the resources below to jump-start your search:
- Network – start connecting with people who work in your areas of interest (career field, company, or industry) and ask for an informational interview. Networking is the best way to learn about careers and companies and actually land an internship.
- Wake Forest Alumni – use LinkedIn to find Wake Forest alumni and contact them to do an informational interview.
- Internship websites – try these websites which list multiple internship resources.
- Location Specific Resources – use these resources when you know where you want to live this summer.
Expect that finding an internship will be labor-intensive. You will need to keep applying and interviewing until you land an offer, which can mean 20 applications or more. As you begin to fill out applications and submit resumes consider using this Tracking Tool to help you keep all of your opportunities and contacts in order.
A targeted resume and cover letter is key to presenting yourself professionally and landing an interview. Here’s a complete guide to writing both your resume and cover letter plus tips on how to complete your resume when you have less experience. Drop in for our daily Resume and Cover Letter Reviews so we can help you perfect these important documents.
We also recommend creating a LinkedIn profile. It’s one more way to present yourself to employers and it can make a significant difference.
When it comes to interviews remember to prepare and practice.
- Prepare by researching the company and the position and think about the interview from the employer’s perspective. What are they looking for in a candidate and what kinds of questions will they ask to determine if you’re a good fit?