Assess your needs first, advises Huhman. “Think about the type of experience you hope to gain from an internship and what you have to offer… Think about the types of opportunities that would be a good match for your skills and personality.”
Also, consider how your interests could link to a particular field. Consider your coursework and activities at university and what’s meant the most to you. “Maybe there’s a cause that speaks to you, or something in your background that draws you to a specific field,” says New York-based career advisor Allison Cheston. “The more specific you can be, the better.” If possible, ask family and friends to help you connect with people they know in these fields to learn more about the work.
Next, you’ll want to target employers. “Focus on employers you’d genuinely like to work for and research their company,” says Huhman. “This will help you find great contacts within the company and write an outstanding application.”
Network again and again
You’ve heard it before, but now you’ve got to act. Connect with people you’d like to learn from on professional networking sites like LinkedIn and Xing and participating in Twitter chats, suggests Huhman. But don’t just sign up and then let your profile sit idle. “Join groups and get recommendations from former employers. Connect with everyone you know and everyone your parents know,” says Cheston. Cheston suggests paying for a premium account, if you can afford it, which will allow you to directly contact people you don’t know without a referral.
Attend networking events. “[They] are a great opportunity for you to meet professionals in person and have a chance to talk about your internship search,” Huhman says.
The cover letter
“Most people – of all experience levels – write really bad cover letters,” says Cheston. “Avoid saying things like, ‘I feel confident I can make a valuable contribution to your organisation’—when you don’t actually have any idea whether that’s the case and chances are, since you’re just starting out, you can’t.”
Instead, think about three skills you can offer and use bullet points separated from the main paragraphs for ease of reading. “If you can write one that focuses on what you can do for an organisation, instead of what it can do for you, you will automatically stand out,” she says.
Like no other interview
Just because you land an interview doesn’t mean you have landed the position. Treat the interview like one for a full-time, permanent job. In other words, prepare by researching the employer.