Make connections to land your dream internship.
Simply uttering the word “networking” can strike fear in the hearts of most undergraduates. The word brings about thoughts of sweaty handshakes, forced conversation, and pantsuits (they may work for Hillary, but you’re not ready for that just yet).
But networking doesn’t have to be intimidating. In fact, you may be doing it already without realizing it. Any connections that you make in college can help you once it comes time to search for an internship.
Friends are by far the easiest way to find out about internships. If they already have the position, they’ll be able to tell you about their own experience, coach you through the interview process, and recommend you for the job. The employers would most likely take into account your friend’s opinion, especially if they are a reliable worker.
If you are a member of an honor society on campus, take advantage of the opportunities available to you. Ask around to see if any of the other members have internships. You are likely just as qualified for the same position. Because honor societies are concentrated on a specific major or minor, the internships that these students have would probably fall under your interests as well.
As a member of Tri Delta, I constantly get emails about different internship opportunities. These opportunities are sent out to members because the employers specifically look for interns involved in Greek Life. You can network within the Greek community as well. Ask your sisters or brothers if they know of any internship or job openings. Chapter advisors are also a great resource. They are usually in the working world and can utilize their own network to help you out.
It has never been more important in your school career to participate in class than it is in college. Professors involved in their respective fields are more than willing to help their students succeed. However, you need to show that you are serious about what you want to do, and willing to put in the time to achieve your goals. Professors can write you letters of recommendation for jobs and grad school, and they have contacts in the professional world. Show up to class on time, participate, and put effort into your assignments. They will appreciate your work ethic and want to help you find a job or internship that falls in line with your plans for the future.
It also never hurts to go into office hours, but make sure you have an objective: help on an assignment, a question about the lecture, etc. They are busy people and small talk with undergrads is pretty low on their to-do list.
Most people don’t get it together until junior year. Some freshman and sophomores are rockstars and lock down an internship their first day on campus, but most of us wait until graduation is on the horizon to start thinking about finding one. The earlier you find an internship, the better. Ask some of your older friends and classmates where they’ve worked and how they got their current position. If they’re graduating, their internship spot may be opening up and they could recommend you for the position.
Career advisors are the best. It is literally their job to help you find a job. Set up an appointment, bring in your best pink, scented resume, and let them work their magic. They’ll teach you all about LinkedIn, your university’s job board, and other available resources. Career advisors are familiar with the job market and which companies are looking to hire from your university, so they can point you in the right direction.
Don’t let the idea of networking hold you back. If you know how to navigate your existing contacts, your dream internship isn’t that far out of reach.