Seven Steps to Landing a Summer Internship

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It's not too late to land a summer internship at a great company according to career counselors and corporate recruiters. Don't assume that all good internships are already filled. It's never too late to seek out summer opportunities as major companies, small businesses and non-profits often do not recognize the need for an intern until summer has begun. All you need is an action plan and a little creativity to get going. Before you know it, you'll be negotiating this summer's start date.

Step 1: Talk with your professors and guidance counselors about your desire to land a summer internship at a company that specializes in your field of study. You may be surprised by the number of contacts they have. This is no time to be shy. Ask him or her directly about any opportunities they know about in your field and for their help in putting you in touch with people who may be able to help you land a summer internship. If they suggest you call someone they know, ask for permission to use their name and be sure to use it!

Step 2: Surf the 'net. Log on to an Internet job search site such as Use's Quick Job Search feature to locate summer internship opportunities by using the keywords "internship" or "summer." You'll find thousands of openings across the nation at great companies like Lockheed Martin, Ernst & Young, Motorola and more.

Step 3: Use your network of friends, family members and neighbors. Experts agree that using a contact to help you get your foot in the door before a position is advertised is one of the keys to success. Contact them and let them know you are looking for a summer internship. Ask them if they know of any openings or have a contact in your field of interest. One college freshman shared her interest in landing an internship in genetics with a neighbor while at her brother's soccer game. Turns out the neighbor has several clients in the biotechnology field and was able to put the student in touch with a number of top firms.

Step 4: Reach out to the community. If necessary, expand your network to other people you know in your community such as church members, fellow athletic team members, former employers and fellow volunteers. Tell them you are looking for a summer internship in your field and ask for their help. Most people won't be able to resist helping a hard-working college student find summer employment.

Step 5: Find a personal connection within the company with which you would like to work. Use your "personal hook" in your contact with the prospective employer. You can find a hook by researching the company on the Internet and looking for clues that could lead to a personal connection with someone in the company. Suppose you research the company's executives and find that the chief information officer attended your university. Use this connection by calling him or her directly, identify yourself as a student of his or her alma mater and communicate your desire for an internship at the company. Chances are, they'll be happy to help you by either paving your way to their company's human resources contacts or by putting you in touch with their fellow industry contacts.

Step 6: Look into non-profits for opportunities. Nearly every student - regardless of their major - would benefit from a summer internship at a non-profit organization or company. Many internships at non-profits often provide opportunities not available to student interns at traditional companies. Because staffing is often tight and budgets are even tighter, non-profit organizations are eager to find student interns with a desire to head up projects or put their knowledge to work on a variety of high impact and meaningful tasks. Students gain real world experience and valuable skills, and the organization benefits from the student's contribution.

Step 7: Contact small businesses in your area and propose a possible internship. Although the local print shop may appear to be running smoothly, you may not realize that its owners are struggling with the need to market their business, establish better pricing methodologies and improve their antiquated bookkeeping methods. Local consulting firms may have experts in their field, but lack the money or expertise to hire a full-time business manager. They would certainly benefit from a summer intern who is majoring in business administration or marketing. Watch your local newspaper for chamber of commerce and other business association meetings to make contacts within your community.

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