The Honest Guide to Finding Your First Internship

This isn’t going to be your typical WikiHow page with four easy steps and some cool visuals. The truth is, getting your first real internship is a struggle, so I’ll outline some key things so you can finally replace your McDonald’s job on your resume with meaningful experience.

It’s a Numbers Game

Student internships are intensely competitive. Hundreds of students are competing for the same positions at your school alone… now imagine the rest of the country. I applied to over 500 positions for my first internship, literally just searching the top 500 manufacturing firms in the United States. Our co-founder did the same, and you’ll probably need to do so as well. Don’t get down on yourself when you don’t hear back from most… all you need is one. It only takes one company to take a chance on you; it only takes one interview to lead into a second that leads into that job. You’ve got to approach each position with the optimism that this might be the one, putting time and care into your application.

Networking

This is a tough skill to learn, but it works for internships and is even more important once you leave college, so start developing the skill now. It is all about creating relationships here, and the numbers game still applies; cast your net as wide as you can. Ask your dad, your uncle, your old babysitter, the creepy neighbor that you’ve never talked to, “do you know anyone involved in manufacturing?” She could be sisters with the CFO of Pepsi — you just never know — and you won’t know unless you try. All it takes is one good lead and your resume rises to the top of the stack. And I assure you, this is normal behavior in the career world. No one will think you are weird for asking for an introductory call, no one thinks it is weird that a friend of a friend is asking to speak to them. Here is a mini-post by our co-founder which shows you an example of how networking might look.

Start Early

I can’t stress this enough. In order to play the numbers game and get to know that creepy neighbor, you need to give yourself time! This means starting back in October and taking out those 500 manufacturing companies or whatever it is chunk by chunk. It also shows that proactiveness that companies live for. People love ambition and commitment.


If you keep these three things in mind and put them to action, you will get your first internship. It may not be fun; you may have thought it would be easier because your friend Timmy got a job at Dad’s office, but most of the time that won’t happen. Put the work in and you’ll get there.

Jack Ford
Ohio State Campus Executive
Penji