Nancy A. Shenker
First, make sure your résumé is in tip-top shape. If you have limited work experience, focus on other personal attributes (reliability, computer skills, leadership in athletics, etc.) that demonstrate how you're different from and better than other candidates. Internships and volunteer work are great ways to enhance the "work experience" section of your résumé, which most employers will look for when you graduate. Use LinkedIn to target people at the companies you're considering, talk to your parents' friends, and ask local store owners if they know anyone in the field you're considering. Job leads can come from the strangest places. Alumni events and groups (local chapters and social media groups) are also terrific places to network. Above all, be fearless and tenacious. The more people you speak to and connect with, the more people you'll meet! And remember to send a handwritten thank-you note to everyone who helps you. A paper expression of gratitude makes you memorable, especially in today's e-communication era!
Director and Professor
Getting a good internship requires the same steps as landing your first job after college: research, persistence, a good résumé, and networking. It's perfect practice for landing a good job when you graduate college. You should go to the career services office at your college and sign up for electronic leads and announcements about companies coming to campus. They can also tell you what other electronic services to use. Start searching by October for the following summer and follow up with the opportunities that sound really good. In addition, talk to family members, neighbors, and friends at school. They may know someone who can give you a lead on an internship. During your years in college, getting several internships during the academic year and in the summer is the most powerful way to be ready for career success. It's never too early to start, even in high school. The reason for this is that an internship doing routine things like opening the mail and answering phone calls one year can lead to a more interesting internship the next. So plan to have a summer internship after your freshman year. One final point! I don’t distinguish between an internship with no pay, an internship with pay, and a paid job. They are all work experience, which is what employers really care about.
Donald K. Sherman
Attorney, Author, Founder
Somebody Does That?!
The short answer is to look everywhere. The internet is where most people tend to start their job search, but that’s what also makes it the most difficult place to find success. The kitchen sink approach is the best way to find any rewarding job, internship or otherwise. It's important to be strategic, but in order to get your dream job, you may need to rely on networking, cold calls, career fairs, and everything in between. Students often discover their career interests in class or in extracurricular clubs, so that's always a good place to start looking for internship opportunities. Talk to your professors or club advisors about your career interests. These conversations can help crystallize your thinking about your future and also build the relationships that will lead to your first job. Colleges and universities have lots of resources for students to discuss their career goals, but your peers may be the most valuable. Upperclassmen have the most recent experience in finding internships, and sometimes a job that’s a bad fit for a classmate might be perfect for you.
Find more expert advice to all your work-related questions in our Ask the Experts—Internships and Careers section.