Yes, unlike summer internships, those that take place in the fall are typically less structured and may require more initiative and creativity to obtain. On the positive side, you may be the only contender so you don’t have to worry about your competition. And because the internship will probably fulfill a specific need on the part of the employer, you have a chance to make yourself indispensable and for an extended period of time. If you decide this is the right career path and the right place for you and the feeling is mutual, this internship could also turn into a formal job offer.
So how do you find this elusive internship?
Identify your Ideal Internship
Using past experience and exposure through college, grad school, travel, etc…produce a write-up of your perfect internship. What would you do, for whom, and for how many hours? Is it unpaid, or is it very important that you get paid? Then, spend some time reading job descriptions and figuring out which organizations offer what you want to pursue. Tip: Search for your area of interest and add the word “careers” and you will get a number of websites devoted to that field (example: “social media careers”).
Case your Immediate Environment
If you’re still in college or grad school… professors, advisors and even students with likeminded interests may be your guide. Make sure you have a specific type of internship in mind so you can be focused in your ask. As with a job search, it’s most often those who are connected to you indirectly who lead you to an opportunity, so cast a wide net who lead you to an opportunity, so cast a wide net.
Take Advantage of Your College Career Center
Regardless of whether you’ve graduated or not, your alma mater still cares about helping you find an internship or a job. Don’t forget: they get “graded” on how many of their graduates are employed, so it’s a win-win to get their help!
Work Up a Compelling Statement of Why You are “the One”
Your outreach should be targeted; your reasons for why they should hire you should be specific and powerful. If you are uncertain of why someone should hire you, don’t expect them to be enthusiastic either! Use “elevator speech” in your cover letters, use it often when you speak to people face-to-face, and make sure the elevator pitch is on your LinkedIn and other social media profiles.
Don’t assume that you can’t make time for an internship while you’re still in school! Be creative and find a way to get your schoolwork done and participate in the work world at the same time.
If you do, you will find yourself in a much more favorable – employable – position come graduation.
About the Author: Allison Cheston is a New York City-based career advisor who works with mid-career executives and young adults to help them identify their unique value in the marketplace and explore alternative careers. Allison is the author of an upcoming book In the Driver’s Seat: Work-Life Navigation Skills for Young Adults, to help young adults from late high school through college develop strengths and interests and match them to internships, coursework and, ultimately, the right job.
Cheston blogs frequently on career issues for young adults at her own blog, In the Driver’s Seat as well as at Forbes. She also blogs for mid-career professionals at The Examiner. You can reach Allison on Twitter.