Around the end of April to early May last year I was applying to be an intern at the National Society of Collegiate Scholars in Washington, DC. After commuting to the office from GMU for my first interview, I was called back to the office for a second interview and I knew this was a good sign. To make a long story short, I actually had three interviews in total for the position but it was all worth it because I spent my summer days working in an office with amazing people whose main priority was to help college students! The lesson here: Securing your dream internship will not always be easy but it will be worth it! Below are some tips to finding and securing a great internship!
1) START EARLY! No matter if you are applying for a summer or semester internship, job, or research related program for your major, there will always be a deadline. Use your Winter Break productively and research different companies that interest you to see if they offer summer internships. If you have no idea what company you might want to intern for, just type into Google “(your major) internships.” If you are unsure of a major just type in “internships for college students.” If you are hoping to secure an internship for the semester, start at least three months before that semester begins. (i.e.: around June for the Fall and October for the Spring).
2) Have multiple options. Though there are some people who only applied to one college and got in, I know the majority of us applied to multiple schools. The same strategy should be used for internships. Applying to a number of different companies gives you a greater chance of securing an awesome position. With that being said, always remember to put the same amount of effort into each and every application!
3) Get prepared! The application will undoubtedly ask for a resume’ and most likely a cover letter and references. Take advantage of Career Services (careers.gmu.edu) on campus to get feedback on how to improve your resume’ and how to successfully write an amazing cover letter. They are also a great resource if you need help on your interview skills. Also, out of courtesy, give the amazing people (professors, employers, etc) writing your recommendation letters at least a three to four week notice so that they can prepare.
4) Research the Company. Yes, you might have researched the company to know enough about the internship they are offering but that does not make you knowledgeable about the company in general. You want to go into your interview knowing what the company offers, how they operate and why you would be a great asset to their team. Let’s say a company has an upcoming event, project or initiative; mentioning that in your interview will undoubtedly set you apart from other candidates so take the time to research!
5) Dress to Impress! Maybe it is because I love fashion but my motto has always been: if you look great, you feel even better! Make sure that you look professional and put together when you arrive to your interview. Business attire is A MUST and will lift your confidence as you efficiently answer every question the employer has for you. Good luck!!