A summer internship is one of the most important things you will do before you enter the real world. Not only does it provide you with experience and references, but it also helps you secure your ideas for your future. There’s just one huge problem: landing that internship is not always easy.
Going through the application process for an internship is difficult and selective. The easier route is by using a connection– whether it is a family friend, through your university or anything else.
“It’s virtually impossible to get into [the Conde Nast summer internship program] unless you know someone, and even if you do, it’s still hard,” said recent University of Rochester grad Claire Cohen. Cohen added that her experience applying to internships was no easy task. Applicants are competing against thousands of students who would do anything for the job. And in this economy, getting an internship is even tougher.
But what happens when you go through the application process, and nothing good comes out of it?
When Cohen didn’t get an interview for the Conde Nast internship program, she said that rejection didn’t get her down. “I went straight to the magazines at Conde Nast after being rejected from the program and found out that the individual magazines were looking for interns outside the programs,” said Cohen. “Sometimes these programs are deceiving because people get rejected and figure that’s the end of it, but usually there’s a way around it.”
Cohen said that a great way to be productive without having an internship is to shadow someone whose career you admire for a day at work. She did this at an advertising agency. “It wasn’t really an internship, but it was at least a way to learn something about a field I was interested in.”
Worrying about getting college credit was not on her mind. She said that networking and talking to people in the field is key, and you may be able to learn just as much.
You can always improve your chances by fixing up your resume. Be sure to use your school’s career center so they can help you figure out what your resume should look like. But you can do more than move a comma around by adding experiences that come from a different angle of your industry. For example, Megan Mungall, a freshman from Elon University, is interested in fashion. So, she works at a clothing store.
“Working in retail is great experience, and it’s a great way to get an inside look into fashion and retail,” said Mungall. “It may not be an internship, but watching my managers and learning more about the company have helped me look at how a fashion corporation works. It’s important to deal with customers and employees to learn about a company.”
So even if your first attempt at an internship didn’t work, that doesn’t mean that you have no future in that industry. Try different angles, schedule a meeting at your school’s career services office, talk to different people and by next summer, you may land your dream internship.