Applying to open positions isn’t the only way to find an internship. Many students create their own. Employers without structured internship programs (most often smaller companies and non-profits) aren’t necessarily closed off to the idea of having interns…they’re just waiting for curious, self-motivated students to reach out to them!
Reflect & research
- Find an organization you’re genuinely passionate about…you love their products, care about the population they serve, believe in their mission, etc.
- Reflect on what you want out of an internship…to hone a skill you learned in class, develop a new skill, practice a new style of working, experience a new work setting, etc.
- Figure out a good-fit contact within the organization...somebody who works in a department of interest to you, somebody with whom you share something in common, or somebody who knows somebody you know.
Write & refine
- Tailor your resume to showcase your most relevant skills and experiences.
- Write a one-page proposal letter (similar to a cover letter) that covers the following:
- How do you know about the employer and why are you interested in interning there?
- How can you contribute to their organization? Give brief ideas of projects you can work on, problems you can help solve, populations you can serve, etc.
- How are you qualified? What knowledge, skills, and experience would help you be successful there?
- What do you want to learn from them? Share some brief ideas; you’ll create actual learning goals later.
- Available start date, preferred end date, and approximate number of hours per week you’re available.
- Craft a professional email with a short, compelling summary of what’s in your attached resume and proposal.
- Have your documents reviewed and then polish them.
- Consider setting up a meeting with your contact to discuss your proposal or get advice.
- Prepare to give your resume and proposal letter to your contact or a hiring manager on a specific team when appropriate.
- Follow-up in a week or two…and then follow-up one more time if you don’t hear back.
- Send thank you notes to your contacts and the employers who engaged with you.
Note: These tasks do not have to be completed in the order presented. For example, you could set up a meeting with a contact first and then create a proposal that builds on what you discussed. Do what works for your situation!
What to do next
- Go to events where you’ll meet employers and other contacts
- Connect with potential employers at linkedin.com
- View sample resumes on our website
- Get 1:1 coaching on creating internships - make an appointment
- Connections can be key. Resist the urge to sit behind your computer and randomly send a gazillion resumes.
- Enthusiasm goes a long way. Isn’t it fun seeing somebody light up (on paper or in person) when they’re passionate about something?!
- Make it easy for them. Employers like when candidates spell out how they can contribute or bring value as interns.