“What you are doing this summer?” That’s the question of the moment for college students. If you’re stumped by this question, consider taking the three-month opportunity to get a leg up on your future career.
Here are six tips to help you launch the search for your ideal summer internship or job:
1. Your first stop for summer internship leads should be your university’s career center.
Most colleges and universities offer free services to help you get started, including identifying career goals and paths, creating a resume, mock interviewing, and offer negotiation. Even better, most colleges and universities host comprehensive job boards and fairs that attract a slew of companies and non-profit organizations that are looking to hire students. College career advisors are experienced professionals who have their fingers on the pulse of the job market and can help you find practical internships to complement your studies.
Also, consider tapping into your school’s alumni network. As Barbara Hewitt, Senior Associate Director of University of Pennsylvania’s Career Services explains, “Most colleges have amazing alumni networks which can be extremely valuable in learning more about specific opportunities at various organizations or simply to learn more about what it is like to work in a particular career field.”
2. Today is the day to start or update your resume.
Your resume is a constant work in progress. The key is to get started now and always have it ready to go on your computer. Don’t procrastinate until you find the perfect job posting. Start with a simple template that can be found on your college career center’s website. As you add activities to your schedule, join organizations, or receive honors, simply add them to your resume. If you see that your resume is looking pretty bare, having it in plain sight will be the kick in the pants that you need to GET INVOLVED!
3. Make a list of jobs and/or companies that interest you for a summer internship.
Start with your dream jobs and expand the list to include fields that intrigue you. Take that list and explore companies or organizations in those fields. The best place to start is to look at career opportunities on a company’s website. To add to the list, check out job boards at your career center, Monster.com, Craiglist.com, Indeed.com, LinkedIn.com, levoleague.com, nycintern.organd others.
4. Write an elevator speech to prepare for summer internship or job interviews.
This is a one-minute introductory sales pitch of your background and career goals. It’s the answer to the question, “Tell me about yourself.” Take a look at the sample below:
“I am a freshman at State University, where I plan to study business or economics. Through my school’s Tech Club, I am working on an innovative social networking site. Additionally, I write for the school newspaper. I am currently seeking a summer internship in the business office of a newspaper, magazine or e-commerce site.”
5. Network, network, network!
Make a spreadsheet of the people you know who could potentially help you find an internship. Be expansive with this list and include everyone, such as teachers, classmates, athletic coaches, friends of your parents, etc. Reach out to your network in person, by phone, or by email. Start the conversation with your elevator speech.
6. Create a professional networking profile, such as LinkedIn.
Think of your LinkedIn profile as your online marketing document or your “public resume,” and keep it separate from your profile on social sites. When creating the profile, ask yourself, “What would this profile look like to a prospective employer?” Once your profile is created, start reaching out to people and building a network.
Take ownership of the internship search. It is actually a fun process. In the end, you will learn a lot about yourself, meet interesting people, and set the stage for a terrific summer.