If you’re looking for internships, then this article is for you…
We’re going to go step-by-step through how to find summer internships for college students… including the best internship websites, plus some tips that most students don’t know! (so makes sure you read until the end).
The websites below are some of the best places to find paid and unpaid internship opportunities for college students and recent graduates:
Note: For general job search engines on the list above, like LinkedIn and Glassdoor, put “internship” into the search box, along with the type of internship program you’re looking for.
For example, you could type “mechanical engineering internship.”
Don’t stop here though, the tips coming up next are even MORE powerful (and faster) methods for finding relevant internship programs, both paid and unpaid. So check out the tips below before you run off to search online.
Your professors often have industry connections and know employers that offer opportunities to intern in the summer.
They’re paid by the university to help you, so don’t be shy about asking for leads on paid or unpaid internships.
Visit your professors during office hours and ask if they have any connections that could help you obtain an internship, or if they know of any internships themselves.
It’s best if you walk in prepared to ask about a specific type of internship (engineering, data science, etc.), or at least have some idea of what field would interest you. Don’t just ask for an internship without any type of specific guidelines.
After talking to your professors, talk to your university career center about internship openings, too.
The staff here have a different set of resources and connections (like recruiter relationships) that can help you find more internship job listings.
Also, ask them if your university has any industry associations, and find out about any alumni networks they have that can assist job seekers in finding internship programs, too. These are additional channels that might be useful for landing a summer internship.
Next, talk to your friends/peers who have secured internships and ask how they did it. This will give you more information and leads that you can follow in your search for internships.
They can tell you about which tactics worked best for them, which websites they used, etc. They may even tell you that the employer they’re going to intern for has more spots open.
Your university may offer career fairs, or there may be other career fairs in your local area. Attending career fairs is a good way to meet recruiters and find out about internship opportunities near you.
Make sure to bring a copy of your resume highlighting any work experience you have (including past internships, part-time jobs, etc.) and your academic experience.
Most recruiters don’t focus on helping entry-level job seekers or students land internships. In fact, very few recruiters work on entry-level jobs in general.
Companies can typically find enough people for these roles on their own.
But some recruiters still do this type of work. You may meet these recruiters at career fairs, through your university career center, or through other networking activities.
If you decide to seek the help of recruiters to find internship openings, make sure they work in the internship space and in the field or industry you’re interested in.
Don’t just email 100 random recruiters via LinkedIn, because they’re unlikely to be the “right” recruiters. Take your time and do more research before deciding if a recruiter is worth contacting.
My colleague on LinkedIn summed it up very well when I asked for tips to find internships:
Further reading: How to email a recruiter
You can also hear about more internships by becoming a part of clubs and organizations on campus. For example, if you’re an engineering student, join an engineering club.
This will expand your network and help you get to know even more people who can help you provide an internship through their connections and knowledge.
Next, you can go directly to company websites and check their “careers” page for internships. Consider sending them an email with your resume and cover letter, even if they don’t have something listed.
While this won’t always work out, it eliminates most of the competition that you’ll find on popular internship websites, etc. So it’s worth doing.
Plus, it shows passion and effort when you go research a company and contact them directly. So this will set you apart and get you noticed!
All of the methods for finding internships that we’ve covered work, but everyone else is doing the same thing… so you’re going to have a lot of competition.
Along with everything above, get creative and think of one or two ways to do things differently. Try something that other students aren’t doing.
Contacting employers directly (discussed above) is one good method.
There’s also a lot more you can do. Here’s an example from a colleague of mine on LinkedIn:
Maybe you can find a way to use social media to find an internship, too. Start following and responding to a couple of your favorite companies on Twitter or Facebook and see if you can catch their attention that way.
Or maybe you have a family member who’s in an industry you’d like to intern in. Ask them who they know! People can’t help you if they don’t know you’re looking.
The “recipe” will be different for each student, but always try to find one or two things you can do differently to get a company to notice you.
This is true for any job hunt. The typical company receives hundreds of applicants for each job (the most recent studies I’ve read say that an employer gets 150-250 per corporate job). So you need to find a way to stand out.
With all of the internship search tactics above, it’s important to start early. Begin at least a few months before your summer internship would begin, if not more.
Start preparing your internship resume even sooner. Start networking earlier, too. That way, you’ll be ready to apply for internships when you’re 3-4 months out.
One question I get asked a lot as a recruiter is, “How can I find internships near me? I only want to hear about internships in my local area.”
If you’re interested only in internships near you, you can use all of the methods above, but should focus on networking and talking to people at your university first and foremost. Your local network, university career center, and professors will be more in-tune with the local market.
Many online internship search websites will have filters for location, too. So spend time looking for internship opportunities on the web, but start with a local, networking-focused approach when looking for an internship in your city or local area.
If you only want paid internships, you should mention this when meeting with professors, talking to your university career center, and speaking to campus recruiters and/or recruiters at career fairs.
You can also add search terms like “paid” or “salary” to your online searches when using websites like Indeed and LinkedIn to find internships.
For some of the websites listed earlier, this isn’t necessary, and they offer a specific page showing only paid internships.
For example, Wayup.com has an option you can click to see only paid internships. So look for this option whenever trying to find internships online.
If you stay persistent and targeted in your search, you’ll find a paid opportunity. Not every internship is paid, but many high-quality companies offer a paid internship. You simply need to narrow your approach to find that type of company.
In general, a cover letter should be addressed directly to the hiring manager or person receiving it (“Dear Susan,” not “Dear HR Department,” and it should highlight information that’s not on your resume.
Don’t just repeat your resume info; no employer wants to read that. If you don’t have any further info to add to a cover letter, then you may not need to send a cover letter.
Or you could write about how you found out about the opportunity, why you’re passionate about the work you’d be doing in this role, how some of your class projects have prepared you for this, etc. That’s what I recommend writing.
This article has more tips on how to write a cover letter with no experience.
Now you know how to find internships for college students so you can gain experience and gain a headstart in your career.
If you follow the tactics above, you’ll stand out and find a better job and company for your summer internship.
No matter what you do, though, don’t conduct your search only online. You’re going to gain far more opportunities and info by speaking with people – your professors, classmates, etc.
Every industry is a bit different, and each city/region in the US is a bit different, too. So what works for one person online might not work well for your particular search. This is why there’s no substitute for having real conversions, asking people what they recommend or what worked for THEM.
Additional reading to help you land a better internship or job as a student:
Biron Clark is a former executive recruiter who has worked individually with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.
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