Internships for college students are one of the best mechanisms for gaining valuable experience your student can use in the future. Getting a job after graduating can be easier if your student has a summer internship under their belt as it shows they can use their knowledge and skills in a real-world environment. Plus, an internship can help your student build their professional network, something else that may help them land a job when the time comes.
While the experience gained through an internship is worth its weight in gold, many students can’t afford to take an unpaid internship. Luckily, there are paid summer internships for college students around, though they are less plentiful.
Here’s a look at what it takes to land one.
How to Find Paid Internships for College Students
Paid summer internships for college students aren’t as common as their unpaid counterparts. However, that doesn’t mean your student’s quest for a paid opportunity isn’t worth pursuing.
Usually, the best place for college students to begin their search is through their school. Career Services Offices or similar departments may have lists of available internships, and some schools even have their own portals students can explore. Your student’s advisor may also have some information about paid internships for college students, so it is worth reaching out and asking for a hand.
Networking with other college alumni can also be an effective approach. Many past graduates would be happy to help students from their alma mater if they can, so it never hurts to ask. Many colleges maintain alumni databases that are open to all students. Your student can explore past graduates who studied the same major, see where they are working today, and (if your student has an interest in that organization) can connect with them through the website.
Many major corporations that hire paid interns also list those openings on their career pages. If your student has a few companies in mind, heading over to each site and exploring their openings could help them spot available paid summer internships for college students.
Career fairs are another excellent resource. Some schools host career fairs on campus to connect companies with students interested in finding internships. However, even those hosted in other locations are worth attending.
There are also websites dedicated to internship opportunities. Internships.com is one of the bigger names in the game and lets your student search based on their major and preferred area.
In some cases, job boards also list internships. However, if your student uses that approach, they may have to sort through other positions that aren’t designed for interns to find something worthwhile.
It is important to note paid summer internships for college students are not available in all industries either. Since larger corporations tend to have more of these opportunities, students studying finance, accounting, technology, medicine, or similar subjects are going to have better luck than history, art, or music majors.
Are There Internships for College Freshman Students?
Yes, there are internships for college freshmen. In fact, some opportunities are limited to freshmen only or freshmen and sophomores, which may make them a bit less competitive than those open to students of all levels.
However, since your student is just starting out in college, paid summer internships for freshmen aren’t as easy to find. Most of these opportunities are going to be unpaid, though that doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable experiences if your student can afford to forgo a paycheck.
Are There Internships for College Graduates?
Even if your student has already graduated, that doesn’t mean they can’t land a paid internship. Some companies will give new grads a chance to hone their skills over a few months, either to determine if they are a good fit for a long-term position or just to give them some experience in the field.
By and large, these options for graduates aren’t as common as paid summer internships for college students. However, if there is a worker shortage in your student’s chosen field, they may have better luck.
How to Apply for Summer Internships for College Students
College summer internships usually have application and screening processes similar to regular jobs. Your student will need to submit a resume or application, possibly answer a few essay questions or provide a cover letter, and usually will have to go through an interview process.
Once your student finds some paid summer internships that catch their eye, they need to read the instructions for applying carefully. Each company may have a unique process and not following the directions is a quick way to end up removed from contention.
Since paid summer internships aren’t as widely available as unpaid ones, competition for these positions can be fierce. Your student needs to make sure their resume or application reflects their capabilities in the best possible light, highlighting accomplishments and achievements that also showcase their skills.
Even if a cover letter isn’t requested, writing one is generally a smart move, suggesting the instructions don’t explicitly say not to include one. In a cover letter, your student can showcase more than they may be able to fit onto a resume or give valuable context regarding their interest in the opportunity and how they intend to use the experience to move them forward down a career path.
How to Interview for Internships for College Students
If your student is asked to attend an interview for a paid college internship position, they need to treat it like any other job interview. First, they need to dress the part, usually in a way that is similar to what they would wear for a scholarship interview.
Next, it pays to practice answers to interview questions. Your student can review the internship’s job description to see what skills and experiences are considered must-haves then rehearse how they would talk about them. Some interview questions your student may encounter during the scholarship process could come up. However, a simple Google search can also present a wealth of results on some of the most frequently asked interview questions around.
Researching the company itself is also a good move. That way, your student knows a bit about their products, services, mission, and goals, and can include those details in some of their answers.
Additionally, it’s wise to think up a few questions your student can ask the interviewer. Have them select a few that help them learn more about what it’s like to work for the company or in the position.
Then, your student should make a few copies of their resume to bring along and prepare everything they need to take and wear the night before the interview. That way, they aren’t scrambling when the big day arrives.
Finally, when they arrive at the interview, your student needs to focus on making a good impression. Make sure they have a firm handshake at the ready, are comfortable with smiling at everyone they meet, and can make eye contact with the interviewer at regular intervals during the interview.
While landing a paid summer internship can be a bit challenging, it is an endeavor worth pursuing. A bit of real-world experience and some cash in their pocket can make their life easier, especially when it comes to paying for college or when the time for them to graduate arrives and they need to land their first job in their field.