Finding the Perfect Internship

I can do more than get coffee source: www.collegerebellion.com

I can do more than get coffee
source: www.collegerebellion.com

Tricia Dowd is a Career Development Assistant at NEU Career Development, and has a MS in Higher Education from Northeastern. She is interested in helping students gain practical experiences to complement what they’re learning in the classroom. 

During my time here at Northeastern Career Development, “How do I find an internship?” has been one of the most common questions students ask me. Northeastern students are known for their drive and desire for practical experiences so it hasn’t really come as a surprise. Typically, I advise students to turn to one of the following three avenues for finding an internship.

1. HuskyCareerLink & Other Job Board Websites: If you haven’t already, check out our internship listings on HuskyCareerLink. These are companies that are interested in working with Northeastern students, which means that you will stand out more in the applicant pool. My favorite way to search for internships on HuskyCareerLink is to click “More Search Options” at the bottom of the job search box that is found on the home screen and then select “Internships” from the list of one- click searches on the left hand side of the page. This will pull up a list of all the internships we currently have posted; as I write, that number is 500! You can narrow your search down using the options in the menu on the left hand side of the page if you want. Once you identify some potential internships, make sure to personalize each resume and cover letter based on the job description.

If your perfect internship isn’t on HuskyCareerLink, don’t fret- there are other options. You can use websites like Indeed or SimplyHired to do a basic internship search. These websites essentially function like the Google of job searching, pulling results from other web pages. You can also get a little more specific to your major by identifying some job boards that are used by your industry. Take a look at your major’s Career Guide, where there is a list of these websites towards the bottom of the page.

2. Networking: Sometimes your perfect internship isn’t even posted! That means you’ll have to find out about it another way- through networking. As an introvert, networking used to sound like a scary word. I worried that I didn’t have a big enough network to be helpful and I was too shy to reach out to new people. Then I started informational interviewing and realized networking doesn’t have to be scary! As a matter of fact, it can even be fun.

You should start your networking process by setting up a LinkedIn profile. We offer a workshop here at Career Development called “LinkedIn 1: Building Your Profile” that’s awesome and I highly recommend it. If you’re just starting out, your profile probably won’t be that developed at this point- that’s OK! You’re already ahead of the game just by being on LinkedIn. Make sure you have a good picture and a catchy headline and you’ll be all set. Once you have a LinkedIn profile, use the advanced search to identify people who work at your target companies or in your target industries. From there, you can reach out to people you found and try to set up informational interviews. Knowing people in your industry can help you to find out about internship opportunities or potential mentors.

3. Stick Your Neck Out: Sometimes looking at job search websites or networking just isn’t going to work. I got my first internship by doing my research and reaching out to the Director of an Academic Advising Office near my undergraduate college without knowing her or anyone else in the office. Not only did the internship confirm my choice of career path, but it also helped me to build my network! If I hadn’t taken a risk, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t be working in Career Development now. That being said, there are right and wrong ways to reach out to potential employers. You should always be respectful and formal in your emails- use formal titles like Dr., Mr., or Ms. Explain why you are trying to gain experience and make it clear you are asking for an unpaid internship. Finally, always make sure to give the person an out- some people won’t have the time or space to take on an intern and others may want to interview you first before deciding to hire you.

Whether you’re looking for your first or fifth internship, finding the perfect one can be a difficult and confusing process. Thinking in terms of the three avenues I discussed above can help make your search more organized and streamlined. Let us know any other strategies that have worked for you below!

Tricia Dowd is a Career Development Assistant at NEU Career Development, and graduated from Northeastern with a Master’s in Higher Education Administration in September. She is interested in helping students gain practical experiences to complement what they’re learning in the classroom. You can reach her at p.dowd@neu.edu