Steps to a Successful Internship or Co-op
Step 1: Know what you want
The first step in answering the question “How do I find an internship?” is asking “What do I want to do?” Start looking at employers that you’re interested in and get a feel for what they’re looking for. Make a list of the industries you might want to work in, and then start listing potential internships in each one.
Internships should be tailored to your interests, and your skills. If you’re majoring in accounting, you probably won’t be qualified for an engineering internship. The company should also offer the kinds of things you’re looking for in an internship.
Step 2: Prepare for the search
Once you have a list of places to go and companies to work for, you’re going to need to master that resume.
You’ve only got about fifteen seconds to grab a recruiter’s attention on paper, so do it right. Don’t have typos in your resume, and try not to let it get longer than a page. You want to expound on all the things that make you a great person, but keep it short and sweet.
A cover letter is also a very important piece of applying for an internship. Each application should be accompanied by a completely customized cover letter. Do not generalize and then send it out to a dozen different companies.
Do some serious research on each company that you are going to contact . The best thing you can do to recommend yourself to a company is to be well-versed on what they do and how they do it. The more you know, the better you fit into the already established order of the company and the less they will have to invest in training you.
Step 3: Contact Career Services to schedule an appointment
Step 4: Search and apply for internships on MountaineerTRAK and attend career fairs
Step 5: Interviews
If you’ve managed to land an interview, you’re halfway there. Yes, only halfway, maybe even only one-third, depending on how many rounds of interviews are required by the company.
While this arms-length interview puts less pressure on your physical appearance, it is still a very important step in the process of landing that internship. The most important thing you should remember with a phone interview is to not interrupt. Be respectful! Wait for an opening. Listen and respond to the questions. Keep your answers brief, and address the interviewer’s questions without launching an in-depth tale of your life story.
Obviously, you’ll need to dress the part, so know the kind of dress code that is common for the industry you’re interviewing for is crucial (this goes back to all that research you did). Make sure your hand isn’t clammy when you shake the interviewer’s hand (wipe it on your pants first if you have to) and do NOT be the limp fish handshake. While many people recognize the folly of basing an interview on the initial handshake, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a good firm handshake.
Similar rules apply in-person as over the phone. Do not interrupt, answer questions as completely but as briefly as possible, and don’t talk yourself silly. But now there’s a physical element. Keep eye contact when listening to your interviewer. Do not fidget, it makes you look restless and impatient. Be friendly but not informal, even when interviewing in an informal workplace.
And no matter what, always have questions for the interviewer, whether you’re talking on the phone or in person. Have at least two good questions to ask when the interviewer says “Do you have any questions?” If, at the end of the interview, the interviewer hasn’t asked you if you have any questions, ask them anyway.
Step 6: Send a thank you
Step 7: Repeat and don’t give up!
You’re not going to get every internship you apply to. You may receive the dreaded, “Thank you for applying, but we’re sorry to inform you that we have decided to go in another direction...” letter. Some employers may not even follow up with you after you apply. Don’t be discouraged. To get an internship, you need to be persistent. Applying to multiple internships will increase your chances and will also provide you with the opportunity to practice, and remember “practice makes perfect!”