Tips for Getting an Internship or Summer Job

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Each year, students obtain interesting, substantive, and career-related summer jobs and internships. The key to their success is preparation and an early start in the job search process. The search for an internship or summer job should be conducted in the same manner.

Here are some tips for teens and college students — for finding a summer job, internship, or other employment:

  1. Determine your priorities. Do you want career-related experience? The opportunity to travel? Funds to support tuition fees?
  2. Identify prospective employers. Research potential employers on the Internet by checking out professional organizations using a search engine and finding employer Web sites. Organizational directories, the Yellow Pages, and local newspapers can be used to pinpoint organizations of interest, including traditional summer employers, like hotels, camps, convention centers, government agencies, etc. Look at online job listing Web sites for upcoming opportunities.
  3. Develop a resume to emphasize your skills. A resume can effectively present your background and distinguish you from other job seekers.
  4. Start contacting employers early. If you seek a career-related position, it is appropriate to contact the manager of an organization in your area of interest, as well as the Human Resources department, as early as three or four months in advance. Call, write or e-mail to request information regarding internship and summer job opportunities.
  5. Complete application and be prepared for interviews. If you are seeking a general, non-career-related position, you may be asked to complete and return a formal application. Be sure to complete these forms neatly and thoroughly, typing them when possible. If there are currently no positions available, request referrals to other employers in the field. Should you be granted an interview, be prepared to answer questions about your background.
  6. Follow-up all interviews. Always send a thank-you letter or e-mail to the interviewer expressing your appreciation. If you were not granted an interview, follow up your application with a phone call, an e-mail, a letter, or even a visit. Your interest and enthusiasm will distinguish you from other job seekers.
  7. Find an internship or summer job that’s right for you. In a competitive job market, a career-related summer job or internship can make the difference in obtaining a full-time position. More employers are using work experiences as screening devices to assess the skills and abilities of prospective employees. Skills learned on the job supplement the skills learned in the classroom. A career-related summer job or internship is likely to give you a competitive edge when you seek your first job.
  8. Clarify the following before accepting an offer. What is the name of the individual to whom you will be responsible while you are involved in the experience? What are the working hours and how flexible will your schedule be with regard to your specific responsibilities? Will you be paid and/or receive academic credit? Keep in mind that some students choose volunteer experiences. What kinds of day-to-day assignments can you expect to receive from your supervisor and others? Are there any special requirements in connection with the work, such as medical examinations, overtime work, or personal expenses? Where will you be working throughout your experience? Will travel be necessary as part of your responsibilities?

For other internships and summer and seasonal job-searching tips check out our:

Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.

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