Summer is here, and college students who don’t already have plans are scrambling to snag a last-minute internship. The reality is that by this time, many student-friendly jobs are already taken. Still students who haven’t yet secured a spot shouldn’t give up hope. The internship market may not be as robust as it was in February but with some diligence, students can still find an experiential learning opportunity. Diligence, that is, combined with some smart searching skills. Keep these five tips in mind while on the hunt for the perfect summer job:
1. Ask the right questions
Summer positions aren’t beneficial for their own sake. The point of an internship is to give students real work experience that will eventually lead to a job in their chosen field, or help them decide whether that field is really where they want to work after graduation. So even last-minute job seekers shouldn’t leap at the first offer.
Each industry has its own nuances that demand a unique set of queries. Students should talk to the University Career Center to learn what they should be asking when meeting with potential employers. Plus, showing hiring managers that you’ve done some homework and are eager to learn about their field can only help your chances, especially at this late date.
2. Know where to look
It’s not enough to use the basic set of job search sites when hunting for an internship. Many industries also have their own niche job boards where positions that don’t appear elsewhere are posted. Check with the University Career Center, which often has knowledge of industry-specific job listings and connections with a variety of employers. We also recommend talking with professors, who might have tips on internships in their areas of expertise.
3. Give your resume a quick makeover
Hiring managers depend on your resume and cover letter when deciding who to interview for open positions, so it’s important to make sure yours is as perfect as it can be before you start sending out queries. Since time is of the essence, the fastest way to get your resume into shape is to solicit professional help.
Make an immediate appointment with one of your school’s career counselors. They’re a one-stop-shop for general advice—like what fonts to use, how much space each item deserves—and industry specific guidance, such as which achievements to highlight and which to leave out.
4. Become an interview expert
While writing a good resume is essential, interviews are the primary way to show employers you have the right personality for the position. It can take as many as nine interviews for students to get comfortable, making practice essential.
How does one get interview practice before actually interviewing for a job? Mock interviews with college career counselors are one option, but a more time-efficient idea is to ask people already employed in your field for an informational interview.
Reach out to people and request a brief chat about their day-to-day responsibilities, how they got their job, and other inside knowledge. These discussions won’t give you experience talking about your own accomplishments, but they should help build confidence, develop connections, and teach you how to hold a conversation entirely around work.
5. Design your own internship
If your applications go unanswered, don’t give up. Look into volunteering at a nonprofit organization or political campaign in an area that will give you some exposure to career skills. Another option is to design an independent project that could be useful to a business or nonprofit and then ask if anyone on staff will “sponsor” the program by acting as a supervisor or mentor.
6. Next time, get started sooner
It’s possible to get a summer job if you start searching in May, but waiting too long is far from ideal. Underclassmen should start particularly early since recruiters tend to hit campuses in the fall and early winter. Getting a head start on the process not only means a higher chance of landing an internship, it also means you’ll have more options to pick from when deciding which position fits you best.
Credits: Jacob Davidson, Time News Editor