How to Get an Internship: Top Tips from Career Professionals

How do you get the internship you really want, the one that will expand your knowledge and your network, and help you build your dream career?  In this post, we’ve collected top tips from University of Utah career professionals to help you!

Crystal Cory, Assistant Director, Engagement & Internships:

  • Don’t give up your search! There is a lot of pressure to find an internship through a Career Fair, but that is not the only option. Check Handshake regularly and talk to your friends and faculty members. Something will pop up that will work for you!

Erik Carino, Career Coach:

  • Please start looking or preparing for internships during the later part of the Fall semester.

Francine Mahak, Post-Doc Career Coach

  • Postings for internships are typically not as detailed as for jobs, so not as easy to tailor to. So research the company and see how your skills might best fit the kinds of projects they’d need help with, so you can make your case.
  • Employers hire in the fall career-fair season for next-summer internships, so apply then and come talk with employers at the career fairs.
  • Employers often value “interest in learning” highly when considering candidates for internships They also generally look at interns as potential future hires. So bring enthusiasm and diligence to your interactions with them.

Mary Arola, Assistant Director, Marketing & Communications:

  • Expand your definition of an “internship:” depending on your interests and personal situation, it may be more relevant for you to find a part-time job, a research position, or a micro-internship (basically a short-term project experience). Internships can also be called different things depending on your field, like practicums, externships, apprenticeships, etc.
  • Consider creating your own internship: if you’re struggling to find the right internship using Handshake or other online job boards, consider trying to create your own internship. Reach out to people in your network (peers, faculty, family, neighbors, etc.) and ask if anyone they know could use an intern in your area of interest.
  • Don’t undervalue transferable skills: oftentimes, an internship is the first place you’ll build field-specific skills. As a result, highlighting transferable skills such as willingness to learn, self-motivation, organizational skills, and communication ability are extremely important in your resume and cover letter – don’t skip over them!

Natalie Pinkney, Associate Director, Programming & Development:

  • Start earlier than you think: Finding an internship can be quick or it can take months. Decrease your stress and your overall ability to succeed by starting your search early. Attending fairs or chatting with a career coach is a good place to start. 
  • Document everything you do: What’s great about internships is how much you will learn in a quick amount of time. As you work towards goals week to week, be sure you are documenting your contributions to the team and overall organizational goals. It will come in handy when negotiating for a full-time position or interviewing with other companies

Olga Kingsbury, Career Coach:

  • People are your most valuable resource when it comes to looking for an internship or a job. Even if you don’t yet have a well-developed network of professional contacts, you do have people in your immediate circle who can help: your classmates, faculty, advisors and anyone on campus you have built relationship with.
  • Let these people know that you are looking for an opportunity. Ask them questions about internships – your classmate may already have landed an internship offer for summer and may be open to referring you; faculty typically have relationships with industry representatives and very often connect students with opportunities; advisors tend to know where students end up after graduation and may be direct you to a specific company. And, for sure, connect with a coach from a career center – it is our job to help students get internships and jobs.