How to Land an Internship
Get an Internship
Week One – “First Day Jitters”
Lesson #1: How to land an internship
Early Monday morning I braced myself for what I expected – a long day of bitchwork and fetching endless cups of coffee. Today was my first day as an intern with the internet start-up company Newzwag based in San Francisco, California. I’d be part of a team that makes news fun and interesting by creating quiz web applications that test people’s knowledge about current events. (Trust me. I’ve tried them. If you like reading the news or learning random facts, these quizzes are just as addicting as “Snake” on Nokia phones). Naturally, I was nervous. Not nervous about meeting my co-workers because I visited the office the week before – but nervous because I was afraid of being the newbie intern incompetent of doing anything. I’m a student at one of California’s most prestigious public universities, but this was my first office job. What if I mess up? What if I forget a simple procedure or find myself staring at the computer monitor in a clueless daze? But then I realized, I was there for a reason – I was there to learn. After all isn’t that the point of an internship?
Needless to say I did look like a dumbass my first week there – even to the point of asking how to turn on the Mac (give me a break – I grew up with a PC). But after having lunch with my editor and pep-talks from friends, I realized I can’t expect to be a wiz at something right away. I’d have to get used to the environment and loosen up a bit. For now, I guess I’ll have to settle with asking a ton of questions until my co-workers are sick of me.
But back up a bit and let me lay out my first lesson in the internship process – how I even got there in the first place. It wasn’t easy, but with a little hard work (and I suppose, annoying persistence) it can be done. Here are a few steps I took.
Steps to landing an internship
1. Research your major via your school website and/or other school websites to discover your career options.
2. Talk to career or guidance counselors to see what possible internships are available.
3. Attend events or question-and-answer panels held by your major to ask the experts questions and to network to help narrow down what kind of internship you want.
4. Attend guest lectures outside of class to talk to professors and professionals.
5. Plan ahead! (Because it’s never too early!) Research internships first through school emails (sometimes schools will send out emails about internships open to specific majors) and university career websites because only undergraduates have access to these options, meaning less competition for you.
6. Perfect your resume and/or cover letter and even have someone else look over them.
7. Send them out to as many internship openings as you can so you have a handful to choose from, even if you think you’re under-qualified – after all, YOU HAVE TO START SOMEWHERE.
8. Don’t be afraid to work at small companies because that just means you probably get to do more hands-on activities instead of just fetching coffee.
9. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions, even the stupid ones.