Everyone needs to start somewhere. Usually, though, we’re expected to be able to make a dish fit for the great Gordon Ramsay without having any cooking experience. A classic Ramsay response might go, “My dying grandmother could cook better than you.” How can we ever expect to search for internships–or any sort of job–when the Ramsay-like advice that we hear is, “Your first application sucked and I have so many more qualified candidates,” (right after you’ve probably dropped $60K at your university). Luckily, there are far better places to start than Hell’s Kitchen.
1. Intern in a Different Field
We often think we should apply only to internships in fields related to our major, but the truth is, experience can be gained from any field. Companies search for students that are super talented at several things, which means if you’re a theatre major who’s offered an internship in computer science, you should consider taking it. Interning with people who aren’t in your field also allows you to gain more experience working with different people. “Diversity is good. I interned in tech offices before I decided to pursue my doctoral in philosophy. It was one of the best experiences I had,” said Margaret Turnbull, a philosophy professor at Boston College. We’re all just a bit scared to step out of our comfort zones, but interning in a unique industry benefits more than it hurts.
2. Don’t be Afraid of Start-Ups
Chances are you won’t intern at Vogue or Goldman Sachs; so where does the internship search start? “It’s okay to not have things planned out in the start. Start-up companies and internships are a good way to approach things,” said Erika Kiyono, a counselor at Boston College’s Learning to Learn. Being part of a start-up will give you insight into how companies are built. You have a more hands-on role and are pushed to do more since the company wants to, as the name says, “start-up.”
3. Be Yourself
Yes, you probably need to throw on a dress or suit for those dreaded interviews, but there’s no need for a complete personality change. “Be yourself when you go for an internship because if you and a company are a match, they might just see it in your personality,” said Boston College junior Katia Tanner. Once you get the internship, your coworkers will see the real you, regardless of any act you put on during the interview. So rather than faking what you’re like every minute on the job, it’s better to just be yourself; people who have similar interests will follow.
4. Don’t Give Up
If there’s a company you’re aiming to intern with that might seem like a reach, don’t give up on it. “Keep chipping away at it, keep applying,” said Boston College sophomore Christina Freitas. There are thousands of people who are applying for internships and even graduate students struggle to find internships. Don’t get discouraged if it takes you multiple attempts to finally get that perfect internship. Keep a positive mindset and don’t let every rejection act as a giant wound to your gut—rather, know you’ll be stronger at the end of your internship search.
5. Hit Up The Career Center
At most colleges, if not all, there’s an office or department geared toward helping students find internships and jobs. Take advantage of it, especially if you’re a student (like me) who is paying a ridiculous amount of money to attend college—squeeze every last dollar out of it. The amazing people in the career center are there to help you with things such as structuring your resume or prepping for an interview. Many career centers have departments for assisting students that lack money-based resources. By taking advantage of resources that you probably (definitely) already pay for, it can only benefit you in your search for an internship.