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Summer is the perfect time to build up your resume with an internship. Not only does an internship add valuable work experience to your resume, it is also a great way to get your foot in the door to a company where you’d love to work. Since the majority of entry-level hires at large corporations are former interns and internships are the new entry-level job, an internships are now a crucial part of the college or high school experience. We interviewed Tom Barry, a counselor with CollegeWise, about finding a summer internship and making a great impression with potential employers.
What are the best places to find summer internships?
There are a few different places to start when it comes to looking for summer internships. Of course, you can check out some of the job boards at school or look into companies or organizations in your area to see if they have anything available for high school students. Or you can seek out programs like Summer Search that match students with internship opportunities in certain cities and then provide them housing and support while they’re there. But there’s also no replacement for people who already know you, so tapping into your parents and family are always a good start, and you don’t want to rule out those connections just because their careers might not be first and foremost in your mind at the moment.
How can applicants stand out against the competition?
So when you first meet with a prospective employer, whether it’s in a face-to-face interview, a group discussion, or an introductory phone call, remember be a person first. Interns aren’t usually expected to pitch big ideas or stay up late for client meetings. But that doesn’t mean you can’t leave a valuable impression with those first interactions, and those impressions matter. So be a person that others want to help. Be on time and courteous with the receptionist in the office or the person answering the phone. Thank people, both verbally and in a follow-up email, for the opportunity and time they took to meet with you. In much the same way that you don’t want to close doors on fields that might seem only tangential to what you think you want to do, don’t view the people you encounter along the way simply as resources for your own professional gain.
Any tips for making a great first impression during one’s internship? What should students and recent graduates do to ensure that an internship turns into a job offer?
Working hard and doing a good job always pay off, whether you’re a high-powered CEO or a summer intern who is only around for a few weeks. Just last year, I had a student take tip number two and reach out to several college professors they’d never met to see if there were any opportunities to help out in a lab over the summer. They showed up on time, asked questions, did good work, and the short-term internship turned into a paid, part-time position a few days a week during the school year. And this summer, they’ll be getting paid even more, working full time on a research vessel studying dolphins off the coast of Portugal alongside a crew of mostly grad students and post-docs. Now how many high school seniors can say that?!
For help navigating college admissions and applications, check out CollegeWise.com.