The Best Time to Find Summer Internships

young intern at work

Sharise Kent is an College Success & Internship Expert. She spent five years managing a national internship program where she placed over 400 interns with some of the biggest media companies in the world. Prior to that she spent a decade in college admissions. Her book, The Internship Manual: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting the Internship of Your Dreams teaches student how to land internships and become rock star interns. 

The best summer internships are found in the fall and winter. What does that mean for the weary and red-eyed college students across the country who have just finished up final exams? It means that this winter break can’t be all play and no work.  Young adults can’t afford to sleep too much and miss out on the chance to get a jump on summer 2018 plans. 

When to Apply for an Internship

By the springtime, many of the best summer opportunities will have already been filled. How does a three-month internship at Disney World next summer sound? Well, Disney stopped taking applications for summer internships in October. Many Fortune 500 companies recruit on campus and online from September - December. While those opportunities have passed, there are many other worthwhile, awesome and valuable internship opportunities still up for grabs well into the spring. 

Even for those students who aren’t looking to intern at big name companies, starting now and getting ahead of the game can make things easier when the spring semester hits in full force.

In today’s competitive environment, students must be proactive about career planning. Every moment of the winter break can’t be spent pouring over websites looking for internships, but it’s a great opportunity to start researching, preparing a resume and applying. 

Why an Internship is Necessary

Companies now expect to see real internship experience before graduation, some want to see multiple internships completed.

Academic performance, major, extracurriculars, leadership and volunteer experiences are among the factors that companies use to select interns. Getting involved in activities outside of the classroom (especially for liberal arts majors), taking on leadership roles, tackling  independent research projects and volunteering make a difference. It is less about quantity of experiences and more about quality when looking to become a competitive intern candidate.

Employers want to hire interns in whom they can see leadership, teamwork and potential. Gone are the days of making coffee (mostly) as interns are actively engaged in writing articles, writing code, working on marketing plans, conducting research, interfacing with customers and other thoughtful, meaningful and engaging projects. 

What You Need to Land and Internship

Landing that first full-time position after college however, isn’t just about major, grade point average and extracurriculars. It is about showing a company that you bring value, can learn fast, solve problems, be part of a team, communicate well, and have been tested in the workforce. Internships provide the chance to gain hands-on experience and demonstrate that you are capable and ready to jump in.

The candidate that gets hired isn’t always the one with the highest GPA, but the one who is the best fit. 

The internship experience is not just about the company, it is also about the intern. I did eight internships while in college. Each experience was different and valuable in it’s own way and I took away new lessons about work and life. Internships allow you to test the waters of different careers, learn new things and see how classroom experiences translate to the real world. The process of learning outside of the classroom can confirm for some students that they are on the right path, while others will find out the career they dreamed of of is a potential nightmare. It is better to learn that over a 10 week internship then after graduation.

If your student still needs additional motivation share that on average, interns make about $15,000 more per year when starting out after college.

Finding an Internship

The internship search process doesn’t have to become stressful or overwhelming. Your student can start the search immediately with these five quick ways to find an internship . Finding an internship takes work and effort but you can support your student with a few simple actions.

  1. Encourage them to visit career services on campus to find out about recruitment events and get help preparing a professional resume.
  2. Keep an eye out for internships with your company and pass on the information about requirements and deadlines. Leverage your network and ask colleagues, friends and neighbors about internships with their companies.
  3. If the internship will be unpaid, discuss how you might lend them some support financially over the summer so they can concentrate on getting the internship experience. 
  4. Discuss the option of interning in a different city or state, and any support you can or can not provide for housing so they can be clear on where they should focus their search.

Internships are an integral part of a college education and more importantly career preparation. The importance of gaining experience before graduation can’t be overlooked. To understand more about the search process as well as how to be an exceptional intern from day one, pick up a copy of, The Internship Manual a Step-by-Step Guide to Finding the Internship of Your Dreams