8 Steps to Getting An Excellent Internship

An internship is a gateway into the professional world. Most students will do an internship between their junior and senior years of college. If you’re Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, you secure your place through a variety of oddball ‘Noogler’ challenges. For everyone else, there’s a more sure-fire way to get selected for an internship.

Photo Courtesy 20th Century Fox, ‘The Internship’

Two weeks ago was my final week of interning with Starbucks Coffee Company. It was an incredible experience and I wanted to pass on a few tips on what you should be doing now in order to get an excellent internship next summer.

  1. Audit Your Online Presence

Would you be comfortable with your Grandma scrolling through your Facebook photos or Twitter feed? A future recruiter will be scrolling through your profiles with the same discerning eye. Ensure that you’re happy with the initial impression that recruiters and hiring managers will be finding of you online.

2. Update Your LinkedIn Account

What do you mean you don’t have a LinkedIn account? Stop reading this right now. Go to LinkedIn. Come back when you’re serious.

LinkedIn is the place where recruiters will find you so commit one hour for the next week to establishing, refining, and connecting with people on LinkedIn. I don’t have the time to go into all the best practices, but feel free to connect with me and then Google, “LinkedIn Best Practices” to your heart’s delight.

3. Make a List of Your Dream Internship Companies

If you aim at nothing you’ll hit..blah, blah, blah — you get it. You need a list of 15 to 20 companies that you want to intern for because the next few steps are going to require some work.

4. Narrow Your Dream Internship list to your Top Ten Companies

Start at each company’s site. Read their mission statement, values, and any cultural information about the company. Next, search their name on Google News and learn more about them. Use this knowledge to narrow your list down to ten companies that you would be pumped to intern with and give your time to next summer.

5. Contact 3 People at Each Company to Open Doors Beyond the Application

Go on LinkedIn and find three people for each company on your list: a former intern, a 1st or 2nd LinkedIn connection, and a recruiting/hiring manager.

Send them each a message indicating your interest in their company, why you believe you could add value to their company, and let them know that you are interested in learning more about how to be a competitive intern candidate at their company next summer.

BONUS: If you live in the area of the company then let them know that, if appropriate, you would love to visit and meet them for a brief 30-minute meeting so that you could learn more about the company and get to know them.

Pro Tip: Keep your message short , two paragraphs or less, and no emojis — this is the grown-up world.

6. Apply for Internships As Early As Possible

If you are seeking to intern at a Fortune 500 then you should be able to find out when applications open for internships by searching online or through your emails with people (see step 5).

Hopefully this step is intuitive, but I want to make it explicit:

You should be starting to apply for internships at the same time that you’re starting fall classes.

If you’re applying to a small to mid-size or local company then time may not be as crucial, but, regardless, you want to have your name in front of recruiters and hiring managers before the wave of applicants shower down upon their desk. The early bird does get the worm.

7. Follow-Up

Again, this should be common sense, but if anyone sends a response to your e-mail or application then you should reply to them within 24 hours.

If you do not get a response within five business days of your original correspondence then follow up with them. A gentle second email or phone call is appropriate.

Bonus Points: Pick up the phone and call the person! Our generation seems to struggle with this activity, but managers love to see people who can pick-up the phone, interact respectfully, and conduct themselves well on the phone. Demonstrate your gumption!

8. Enjoy the Hustle

Have fun! Pretty soon you are going to be interning, entering your senior year, graduating, and getting that fancy job so enjoy the process!

If you have any questions specific to your situation then feel free to write a response below, tweet me at Justin_Gillebo, or connect on LinkedIn!