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Tips for Getting an Internship or Summer Job

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Each year as we hit June, high school and college students stream into the job market seeking summer jobs and career-related internships. The key to success? Preparation, an early start in the job-search process, and determination!


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

  1. Determine your priorities. Do you need money to support yourself or your family? Desire a career-related experience? The opportunity to travel? Funds to enhance your savings and/or support tuition fees?
  2. Identify prospective employers. Research potential employers on the ground -- as well as online by checking out professional organizations and finding prospective employer Websites. Organizational directories, the Yellow Pages, and local newspapers can be used to pinpoint organizations of interest, including traditional summer employers, like hotels, camps, retailers, government agencies, etc. Look at online summer job and internship Websites for opportunities.
  3. Develop a strong resume that emphasizes your accomplishments, skills, and abilities. A resume can effectively present your background and distinguish you from other job seekers. [See extensive tips, advice, and samples in our Resume Resources for Job-Seekers.]
  4. Start contacting employers early -- and repeatedly. 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. If there are currently no positions available, request referrals to other employers in the field. Be prepared for an interview on the spot by developing responses to common interview questions -- before you start submitting applications.
  6. Follow-up all job 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 -- but working in a job you hate, even for the summer, can result in serious issues, so choose where you work and the job you accept carefully.
  8. Clarify the following before accepting an offer and starting the job. 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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