There is no standard internship application process that all employers follow. Instead, you will come to realize that employers have early deadlines and begin their recruitment process on a specific schedule every year, so don't procrastinate. Internships do not start and end according to what fits your schedule. Many students miss out on an internship because they simply waited too long to start their search.
Identify why you want an internship and what are your priorities. It will also help for you to list what your current skills, what skills and abilities you can offer a prospective employer, and what skills you hope to improve. List how you developed those skills. Did you develop those skills through your education, internship, volunteer opportunity, and/or a job? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Identify what things interests you and what things don't. Do you want to intern part-time or full-time? What type of work schedule do you want to work? How far are you willing to commute to your internship and what type of work environment do you prefer? Are you willing to take on an unpaid internship? (Note paid internships are limited in availability) These are questions you want to know before you actually begin searching for an internship.
The job search process can wear you out. Therefore, it is important to maintain a positive mind-set.
Write out a list of what you want from your future career. Research jobs in different career fields. Identify what things interests you and what things don't. Knowing this criteria ahead of time can impact the direction of your search, by helping you to identify potential careers and jobs more clearly. You will also have a general understanding of what you might experience and what you can expect. This research can also help you market yourself more strategically, therefore making you a more competitive applicant. If you are not sure how to narrow down your career goals or feel overwhelmed, don't worry, many students have been in your shoes. You can always reach out to the Career Services Center for help with this process.
You've narrow down your career goals. You've done your research. If you start to see a number of gaps between what employers are looking for on internship descriptions and your resume, you may not be ready for that particular role, at this point in time. Reach out to the Career Services Center for help in filling those voids. Sometimes you might need to seek out additional training and/or education to add value to your resume. While other times, you might need to gain the requisite skills at your current place of employment, another internship or volunteer opportunity.
Most internship applications require a resume/CV, cover letter, and depending on the industry, a portfolio. This can take a lot of time to develop. Make sure these documents are up to date. You will need a separate cover letter and resume for each internship application, as what you list on these documents must be relevant to each internship position. Don't forget to also contact and identify 3 to 5 people who will agree to serve as your professional reference. It is also helpful to make sure you have at least one professional-looking interview outfit ready to go, a short elevator speech designed to introduce and sell yourself and a professional voicemail message, email address and email signature.
What you don't realize is that most companies utilize an applicant tracking system (ATS) software. Applications are now being rejected before even being seen by human eyes. Employers use an ATS to collect, sort, scan and rank applicants they receive for their open positions. The systems scans for specific keywords to determine if the applicant should be pass along to the employer. Therefore, it is important to read the internship posting and use keywords in your resume. If the internship description states you need experience with x, y, and z, then make sure you list x, y, and z experiences. Make good use of your time and avoid being rejected by an ATS.
Take some time to make sure your online presence (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, etc.) is professional and can help you with your internship search. Your online presence is essentially what someone sees when they look you up online. The internet is forever, so be aware that what you do and say in the cyberspace can follow you throughout your career. There are many people who have lost their jobs because of what they have posted or what others have posted about them. Just note that employers typically conduct a social media search while they are vetting an candidate for a position. Posting content might help you develop rapport with like-minded folks, but it can also as easily close door with others.
Internship searches have a lot of contacts, follow-ups and actions you have to complete. We recommend that you create one centralized document which you can use to keep track of what internships you have submitted, which applications are still pending, any anticipated deadlines, who you have reached out to for informational interviews, referrals, etc. Some people create spreadsheets while others use software applications. Use what works for you.
Contact the Career Services Center and we can provide you with online resources you might need in order to find an internship as well as how to receive academic credit for your internship experience. We can also help you update your resume and cover letter as well as prepare you for any interviews you may be offered. You can also visit HireSMC, the online employer portal for the SMC community and find internship opportunities.
In addition to reaching to the Career Services Center, you might also want to connect with your your family, friends, professors, mentors, former employers, academic counselors, places you have volunteered at, SMC alums, etc. Networking is an often overlooked strategy, but may be one of your best resources for information. By networking, you might be able to connect you with people willing to conduct informational interviews with you or have valuable information on career and internship opportunities. Be sure to also thank these individuals for their time and knowledge.
Attend a Career Fair or event sponsored by the Career Services Center. This is a great way to meet and network with professionals in your potential career fields. However, before you attend a fair and/or event, make sure to take a look at who will be present and be ready to quickly introduce yourself/give them your elevator pitch. This is roughly 30 to 60 seconds, where you introduce yourself, your interest in the organization and what they do, and what you want. Depending on the type of event, you may also want to provide them with your resume. Always, politely ask for their business card/contact information, and follow up with them right after the event. These are great opportunities for you to find an internship or ask for an informational interview. Make sure to dress professionally.
After you have utilized the Career Services Center and your personal network, search online every day for new internships opportunities. Competition for internships is fierce. Search HireSMC, professional organizations, major job boards like Indeed and Linkedin, local career fairs and networking events, etc. You can also reach out directly to companies who you think may be a good fit and who don't provide a list of internship opportunities on their company website. However, understand that not all internships are good internships. If you find an internship and you want to make sure it isn't fraudulent/scam, check with the Career Services Center before submitting an application or contacting the employer.
Sometimes companies are too busy to invest time in developing an official Internship Program. However, they might welcome a proposal from a highly motivated applicant who is willing to put in time and effort. Reach out to smaller companies and nonprofits. They may be interested in looking for students to assist them with short-term projects. You can always reach out to the Career Services Center for help with this process.