Find the Right Internship for Your Career: Part 2

Internship Search Plan & Post-Application Timeline

By Erin Johnston

In Part 1 of this two-part blog series, we explored aspects of timing and preparation in securing an internship aligned with your career goals. By dissecting internship application timelines based on company size and industry, the post provided a comprehensive guide for navigating this crucial phase of the internship search process.

In this installment, we present our recommended internship search plan and shed light on what to expect after submitting your application. The internship search journey can be difficult to navigate without the proper strategy. Our plan is designed to equip you with the necessary tools and strategies to secure valuable internship experiences that align with your goals. Drawing from insights shared in the recent webinar, “Find the Right Internship for Your Career,” this blog post outlines key steps to prepare yourself for the internship search process, effective methods for finding internship opportunities, and strategies for navigating the post-application timeline.

Internship Search Plan

Our suggested internship search plan is designed to help you approach the process with clarity, confidence, and purpose. In this section, we’ll outline ways you can prepare yourself for the internship search process and ways to find the most fruitful opportunities. This plan will equip you with the tools and strategies needed to secure valuable internship experiences that align with your goals and aspirations.

Preparing Yourself for the Internship Search Process

Before diving into the internship search process, it’s essential to take some time to prepare yourself effectively. By equipping yourself with the necessary tools and strategies, you can approach the search with confidence and increase your chances of success. Here are some key steps to consider.

Decide What Types of Internships You Will Target: Start by defining your internship goals and identifying the types of opportunities that align with your interests, skills, and career aspirations. Consider factors such as industry, role, company/organization size, location, and duration to narrow down your options. By clarifying your objectives upfront, you can focus your efforts on pursuing internships that are well-suited to your needs and preferences.

Conduct Skills & Accomplishment and Gap Analysis Exercises: Next, conduct a thorough assessment of your skills, accomplishments, and areas for improvement. Reflect on past experiences, academic achievements, extracurricular activities, and relevant coursework to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Use tools such as the “Skills & Accomplishments” and “Gap Analysis” exercises to pinpoint areas where you excel and areas where you may need to develop and enhance your skills. This self-assessment process will not only help you identify your unique selling points but also guide your professional development efforts as you prepare for the internship search.

Update Your Search Materials and Have Them Reviewed: Once you have a clear understanding of your internship goals and skill set, it’s time to update your search materials, including your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile and/or portfolio. Tailor these documents to highlight your relevant experiences, achievements, and qualifications in alignment with the internships you’re targeting. Use action verbs, results, and specific examples to showcase your skills and accomplishments effectively. Additionally, consider seeking feedback from mentors, our advisors at the Office of Career Planning and Professional Development, or peers to ensure that your materials are polished, professional, and tailored to the internship opportunities you’re pursuing. Incorporating constructive feedback can help you strengthen your application materials and stand out as a competitive candidate in the internship market.

Get Comfortable with Common Interview Questions and Styles: It’s helpful to create a personal pitch and start to learn about interview questions (traditional, behavioral, and company specific) and styles by industry. Some general questions you can begin to prepare for include: Tell me about yourself. What are your top strengths? Why should we hire you?

By preparing yourself thoughtfully and strategically for the internship search process, you can position yourself for success and maximize your chances of securing valuable internship opportunities. Take the time to define your goals, assess your skills, and refine your search materials, and you’ll be well-equipped to embark on your internship journey with confidence and enthusiasm.

Researching Internship Opportunities

When it comes to finding the right internship for your career, proactive research is key. While online job boards and company websites are valuable resources, a multi-faceted approach that includes networking, attending career fairs, and leveraging your connections can significantly enhance your chances of success. Here are a variety of internship search strategies we recommend:

Utilize Handshake: Handshake is an internship and job listing platform that the Office of Career Planning and Professional Development maintains. Create a profile, upload your resume, and explore internship listings tailored to your interests and qualifications. Take advantage of Handshake’s networking features to connect with employers and alumni in your field.

Check Online Postings: In addition to specialized platforms like Handshake, regularly check general job boards and internship websites for new postings. Websites such as Indeed, Glassdoor, Wellfound, BuiltIn, and LinkedIn often feature a wide range of internship opportunities across industries. Be sure to also regularly check your field’s professional associations’ job boards and industry-specific career websites to find opportunities that align more closely with your career aspirations.

Check Organizations’ Websites: Many companies and organizations prefer to post internship opportunities directly on their websites––it’s low cost for them and ensures candidates are following their organization. Make sure to visit the Careers or internship sections of organizations that interest you, set up job alerts, subscribe to newsletters, and follow the organization on LinkedIn to stay informed about new postings and opportunities.

Attend Career Fairs: Career fairs are excellent opportunities to connect directly with recruiters and representatives from various companies. Come prepared with copies of your resume and a polished elevator pitch and be proactive in engaging with recruiters. Ask thoughtful questions about internship opportunities and express your enthusiasm for their organization.

Talk to Recruiters: Engage in conversations with recruiters at career fairs, networking events, through informational interviews or via LinkedIn messaging. Express your interest in internship opportunities and inquire about the application process and timeline if it’s not publicly posted. Building a rapport with recruiters can often lead to valuable insights and potentially open doors to internship opportunities.

Expand Your Network: Networking remains one of the most effective ways to uncover hidden internship opportunities and gain insights into potential employers. Reach out to professionals in your desired industry via LinkedIn, alumni networks, or professional organizations. Engage in meaningful conversations, which can often lead to information about opportunities or referrals.  Find networking events and panels to continuously grow your network.

Utilize Your Existing Network: Don’t underestimate the power of your existing network. Friends, family members, professors, classmates, alumni, supervisors, and former or current colleagues may have valuable connections or insights that could lead to internship opportunities. Your LinkedIn connections are great resources, as well. Let them all know you’re actively searching for internships and ask if they have any recommendations or can introduce you to relevant contacts. Keep your eye on internship postings at their individual organizations, and reach out if you find something you’re qualified for and interested in.

Conduct Informational Interviews: Informational interviews are a valuable way to learn more about potential employers, network with these professionals,  and uncover internship opportunities. Reach out to professionals in your field through LinkedIn, alumni tools, company websites, professional associations and/or events, and request a brief conversation to discuss their career path, company culture, and any available internship opportunities. Informational interviews typically last a brief 20–30 minutes and are one of the most effective forms of networking.

Approach organizations directly: If you’re interested in working at a smaller organization or start up that doesn’t have positions posted, approach staff to introduce yourself and pitch yourself as an intern who is able to contribute to their mission and goals with your skill set. You can also follow organizations on LinkedIn and engage in their content to start to showcase your interest.

By combining these research strategies and staying proactive in your approach, you can uncover a wealth of internship opportunities and position yourself as a strong candidate in the competitive internship landscape.

Timeline: After You’ve Applied

Once you’ve submitted your application and ideally followed up to express interest with a hiring manager or recruiter,here’s what you can expect in the subsequent stages of the application process.

Review: Once you’ve submitted your application materials, companies and organizations will begin the process of reviewing them. This stage involves assessing your resume, cover letter, portfolio, and any additional materials you provided to determine if you meet the qualifications and requirements for the internship role. Even if your application goes through a referral or recommendation, this step is still part of the process.

Reach Out: After reviewing applications, employers  typically reach out to a select number of candidates—often ranging from three to five—who have stood out through referrals, networking efforts, or online applications. This initial contact may involve setting up an initial interview.

First Interviews: The first round of interviews is your opportunity to make a positive impression and showcase your qualifications and enthusiasm for the internship position. Interviews may take place via phone, Zoom, or in person and typically last around 30 minutes. Be prepared to answer common interview questions. For technical roles, you may be asked to complete a technical assessment before or after this step of the process.

Who Moves Forward: Following the first round of interviews, employers will deliberate on which candidates to bring back for the next rounds of interviews. This decision is based on factors such as qualifications, experience, cultural fit, and overall impression during the initial interview.

Next Round Interviews: Candidates who progress to the next round can expect more in-depth interviews, often with team members and other stakeholders within the organization. These interviews may take various formats, including one-on-one meetings, panel discussions, or even group interviews. Depending on the role, you may also be asked to complete a project or deliver a presentation to demonstrate your skills and abilities.

Decision: Finally, after all interview rounds are complete, employers will make their final decision on candidates and extend offers to the selected individuals. This stage marks the culmination of the application process and the beginning of an exciting new chapter in your career journey.

Navigating the post-application timeline can be an exercise in patience and perseverance, but by staying proactive and prepared, you’ll position yourself for success in securing the internship opportunity that aligns with your goals and aspirations.

Searching for the right internship for your career can feel overwhelming. Our internship search plan provides you with the necessary tools and strategies to boost your confidence and alleviate some of your worries. From preparing yourself for the search process to researching opportunities and understanding the post-application timeline, each step is essential. By taking the time to reflect on your goals, remaining proactive, and leveraging your network, you position yourself for success in securing the right internship opportunity for your career. Good luck on your search!

Additional Resources:

Related Blog Posts:

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