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Oct 22, 2016 07:07 AM EDT

College Internship Search: Useful Tips for Students

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College internships gives students their first exposure to the professional world and given the number of students who want to get into internships, an applicant will have to know where to look and to do something that'll stand out so they get picked by the company they want to intern in.

While internships are not a necessity unless your course requires it, getting one can definitely boost your career. Apart from the professional experience you'll gain, it can also expand your network and get you connected to people that can help your career later on.

The best time to plan your internship is as early as possible so you can prepare - would you need to relocate or can you manage the internship with your school work load, will it require you to be on the firm's office at certain times or if they offer virtual internships. Planning ahead will give you time to adjust and find solutions to possible challenges that might arise.

The first step to get started on your internship is to look for companies who have internship programs and apply to be a part of them.

Where to look for internships?

LinkedIn 

Allows you to build your network and connect with companies. You can narrow your search to companies that really interests you, send them a message and ask them for information about their internship programs.

Glassdoor

This job-hunting website offers tons of information about jobs and employers and also has an extensive job listing you can search through based on your location and preferred field.

Indeed

 This site allows employers to put listings and for jobseekers to find and where they can upload their resumes for the employers to review. It's a low cost model that brings both parties together.

Internships.com

Like Indeed, this website allows free postings and also has a mobile app for those who'd like to do their job search on the go.

Looksharp.com

Previously Internmatch.com, this website lists about 50,000 entry level jobs and internships that you can search through to help you find your dream internship.

Your school 

Don't leave your alma matter out yet. Schools and school systems have a large network of alumni and business that you probably can ask your career centers about. Go and take advantage of it.

Friends and family 

Your immediate family or close relatives and friends might have the right connections to organizations and business you'd like to be a part of. Asking them for an endorsement or a referral can help if you're really serious about interning on those companies.

Local employment agencies

Each state has a government sponsored employment agency. Sometimes the agency is broken down by sector. You can always ask them if there are internships in the area where you are located so you don't have to worry about moving or commuting too far.

Company websites

If you want to directly go to companies, this is a great way to get started. Check out the company's website and search for internship that suits you and go ask for information directly.

Professional groups 

There are many professional associations and you can always ask if they have listings of internships and if they can endorse you to one of their members to get your search started.

Things to think about

  • Find out as much as you can about the internship programs you're interested in. If you have to report in the office and work for a fixed number of hours and days each week, can work be done remotely, or if you need to commute or drive, if they offer allowances for those.

  • Your school and internship load. If the internship will ask you to devote a certain number of time, will you have enough to enroll and balance your schoolwork with the internship?

  • Most internships don't have pay so consider the location and commute when picking out the ones you'd like to apply in. This also gives you enough time to prepare if you need to move - find a place to stay, move your belongings and get settled before work starts.

  • Think about costs too if you'll be commuting or moving away for an internship. Is this something you can afford to do for the next few months? If the company will give you an allowance will it be sufficient to cover basic expenses like: rent, food, fare or fuel when you need to travel and clothes, should you need to buy any.

  • Comfort. This may seem trivial or irrelevant but you need to ask yourself if you'll be okay doing internship in a specific company and do what it needs to meet their professional expectations. Before making that internship commitment with anyone, commit with yourself first.

  • Apply using your university email and write your resume and cover letter professionally: concise, direct to the point and make sure it has no grammatical errors. Respond with your prospective companies courteously and send follow up requests and thank you emails when needed.

  • Always act professionally from the moment you apply as well as when you get in and perform tasks and assignment given to you. Regardless of the size of the responsibility you've been given, value the confidence your teammates gave you and do s you are expected.

  • Make connections and keep in touch even after the internship ends. These can be valuable somewhere along the road.

You've probably applied in the best companies, when you get in, do find yourself a good mentor who will teach you not just the things you need to finish the internship well but also teach you more about the business or the industry you want to be a part of. Learn from their advice and experiences.

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