How to search for a summer internship

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If your student is wondering how to spend their summer vacation, they should consider looking into an internship. Internships allow students to gain valuable professional experience while they’re still in school, and can help them network, hone in on where they’d like to take their career after graduation, and sometimes even get college credit. An internship could just be for the summer months, or it could extend into the school year. There are lots of different kinds of internships and ways to find them, so let’s go over the basics.

Types of internships

Paid internships are similar to a student job — interns get paid either in regular paychecks or all at once in a stipend. Unpaid internships do not provide a paycheck, but they still look great on a resume and give students the chance to connect with professionals in their desired field. Before pursuing an unpaid internship, it’s important to do research and ensure your student is getting real value out of the experience and protecting themselves from potentially exploitative situations, where they could receive unfair treatment.

Research internships allow students the chance to get hands-on experience with research and data compilation. These may be offered by professors at the university, or at an outside company or organization. 

For-credit internships combine work experience with a class, with some internships doubling as academic credit. In fact, some degree programs require that students complete at least one internship in order to graduate. Not all internships will offer academic credit, so it’s important to confirm whether or not a position is for-credit or no-credit in advance. 

No matter what kind of internship your student ends up pursuing, they will come away from it with new skills, connections and the chance to learn by doing.

Finding the perfect internship

Where can your student find the right internship for them? There are a few different places they can begin their search. One of the best ways to find an internship is by attending an on-campus job fair at their college. Employers will be there to talk about opportunities available at their organization, and some of them might even let your student interview for a position that day. 

Job fairs aren’t the only place to find internships, though. Many of them can be found online. Handshake is a student employment app where recruiters and employers share job and internship opportunities. Your student can create a profile, and the app will recommend personalized job opportunities based on their interests and skills. 

Students can also search on websites like LinkedIn and Indeed for internship listings. These sites offer customizable searches, so students can narrow down the results to exactly what they're interested in, such as location, industry or level of experience.

If your student already knows a particular company or organization they’d love to intern at, they can check the organization’s website to see if the company has a job portal. Or, your student can do some networking with alumni from their university to see if anyone has an internship opportunity for them. 

The best way to communicate with a recruiter, whether online or at a job fair, is to be professional and prepared. Your student should make sure they have an up-to-date resume to provide, and to send with their initial message if they are communicating virtually. Be sure your student follows up with a recruiter and stays in touch — even if the first opportunity doesn’t pan out, keeping up a relationship with a recruiter could mean more internship opportunities in the future!