Summer Internships - all you need to know

Summer Internships - all you need to know

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summer internship

Summer is here, and once again you’re probably looking for a way to make the most out of it. There are a seemingly limitless number of options swimming around in your head, and it seems impossible to choose one. Maybe you’ll start meditating, like all the Silicon Valley/Hangzhou/Berlin/Bangalore millionaire-hippie-gurus seem to be doing these days. Or maybe you’ll binge watch every episode of [insert show here] for the twelfth time. Maybe you’ll buy a Kindle and finally start reading the ~73 books you have on your reading list, or maybe you’ll spend as much time with friends and family as possible since you’re going to miss them once you go back to school.

The amount of choices is frankly a bit overwhelming, but thankfully, for those who are looking for a more career-oriented summer, choosing what to do becomes very straightforward - finding a summer internship. Internships are becoming an essential step in the job application process as more and more companies are looking for a hefty amount of experience in new hires. Spending a summer (or more!) interning at a professional organization is a surefire way to gain a myriad of experience while simultaneously expanding your network, finding mentors, learning more about fields you’re interested in, and being able to “test run” your career.

 

So how do you get a summer internship?

The application season for summer internships starts surprisingly early, especially if you’re looking to land an internship at a bigger company. Many college students looking for internships start the summer internship search/application process during the fall season, expecting to hear back in the spring. This may seem daunting, but luckily, there are a lot of resources available to help you apply. You can find a lot of guidance and opportunities at university career centers or online job boards. Oftentimes, your friends/family will know of someone that needs an intern with your skill set. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them! It’s usually a win-win for both you and the company.

 

Once you’ve decided that you want a summer internship, the next step is to figure out what you want to do. If you’re dead set on a specific industry, it’s easy to search by keyword or by field. If you’re trying to keep your options open, it’s a good idea to read through the descriptions of any internship that you have some interest in to see if there’s anything you think you’d be good at/want to learn more about. Keep in mind that as an intern, employers are typically not expecting someone who is an expert at everything that they list. Of course, the more requirements you meet, the more attractive of a candidate you are, but employers are always on the lookout for students who have a demonstrated interest in the work and who have the potential to learn and grow in their role. In turn, look for internships that will allow you to develop your skills rather than ones where you are likely to just be proof reading or photocopying all day. The more responsibility the better, and be sure to search out internships that will give you exposure to a broad array of tasks and areas of the business.

 

One option that doesn’t cross the mind of too many students is finding an internship abroad. Many students take a semester or two off to study abroad for the chance to live in a foreign country and experience a different culture. Spending a summer interning in a different country is a great way to reap all the benefits of studying abroad and traveling with the opportunity of learning what it’s like to work in a different country and boosting your resume with unique international work experience. If you intern abroad, you can also truly immerse yourself in the daily life and culture of a city, discovering new places and delicious foods and even learn a new language, another boost to your resume. Additionally, your coworkers, who have probably been in the area for a while, are great resources to ask about local restaurants and things to do. Although it may seem more complicated, there are institutions like the Hutong School in China that assist you through every step of the process, from visa applications to housing and beyond.

 

Once you’ve decided what you want to do and where you want to go, it’s time to submit your application. Most of the time, companies will just ask you for your resume and cover letter to see if they want to offer you an interview. This means that both of these documents have to stand out among the countless others that companies receive. It seems like a bit of a catch-22 - needing experience in order to get experience - but luckily, there are many tips out there to make your application stand out in other ways. Make sure you tailor your resume to the job and include any relevant experience you have, explaining in your cover letter as to why you're interested in that particular business and role.


Internships can last anywhere from 2 weeks to 4 months and beyond, although most summer internships typically last around 10 weeks. Be sure to schedule vacation time or other big events accordingly before embarking on your journey. Once you’ve sent in your applications, don’t stress out over whether or not you’ll hear back. Do your best to constantly update your resume with new projects and skills, and let your work do the talking for you. Oh, and once you get the offer, make sure you don’t make any of these mistakes while you’re there. Good luck!

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