The Ultimate Guide to College Internships

Our Student’s Guide to Skillfully Locating, Bargaining and Accepting Internships

students-workingHands up all those undergrads, college seniors, and graduate students, who right now would like to get some hands-on training just before launching their careers? (should be everyone)

Keep those arms lifted if you are a bit puzzled on how to become a student intern or how to compete for and land expert training programs? (should still be everyone)

And now keep those digits aimed high all those graduating students who wish to find out just how simple it is to locate dream internships or would like to realize the perks of intern programs for college students? (Everyone’s arms should be tired by now)

After years of studying, most college graduates believe that a great job is just around the corner. Yes, it is true that some people do find what exactly they want, career wise, right after their gradation party, but the reality for most is another story.

Internships are a great way for students to get their feet wet in the industry of their choice; make important contacts; and distinguish themselves from other grads who jumped into the job market without training.

Our complete guide to internships will give you the low down on internships, what they are and why they are so important.

Internships: Untangled and Put Into Plain English

Are all program internships the same?

Not at all! There are many different types of training programs out there; some are paid; some are not; some hire only during the summer; while others need somebody year round; there are even international student internship programs that just hire foreign exchange graduates who seek practical training.

I’m still in school, “Can I just intern during the summer?”

Certainly! College students who choose not to visit mom and dad during summer vacation can actually start their career education through pursuing an eight-to-twelve week program internship that combines with their studies. Most summer internships run from June to August and feature both full and part-time jobs.    

I just put away my cap and gown, “What internships are available for me?”

College and Vocational School Internships

Internships are certainly not only for university students. Several training opportunities exist for community college graduates seeking some career education before transferring to a university; vocational school students who earned their associates degree can also pick up some expertise through interning in their related to their field of study.

Undergraduate Internships

US News and World Report editor, Brian Burnsed, wrote a few years back, “Degrees Are Great, but Internships Make a Difference.” Burnsed mentioned that what distinguishes the one-and-a-half-million individuals who earned bachelor degrees with an excellent GPAs from their colleagues were the students who jumped into undergraduate internship programs just before leaving college.

The National Center for Education Statistics backed up Burnsed’s findings, publishing that over seventy-five percent of American men and women who participated in undergraduate vocational training programs located work within six months after getting their degree.

Graduate Internships

Most graduate students have internships built into their syllabi, requiring the individual to work in their field of study before commencement; there is a good reason for this.

Boston University’s School of Management is one of the higher-education institutions that demands its grad students to gain exposure to their industry, requiring three months of full-time employment at the end of each curriculum. The University found that graduate internships pose “critical phases” in most people’s careers, as the majority of these training programs either lead to permanent job offers or important networking opportunities with leaders from top-tier companies. 

Gearing Up For the Quest

1) Career Self-Assessment: Looking at Who You Are

“What is the worst thing about yourself that you like?” – Dr. Amit Abraham

This distinguished educator may have been recalling his intern years after mentioning this thought in his best seller “You Have the Power to Be Happy“; and folks might just be scratching their heads now, asking themselves, “why is learning about one’s self a necessary first step in getting an ideal college internship?”

software-engineer-internCareer self-assessment is a vital component in preparing for an internship search. Individuals really should discover their key attributes ahead of arriving at informed career decisions. Just like when people buy a brand-new PC, several customers compile as much relevant information as possible in order to come out of the store with a good deal; university or college students who are selecting a college training program should do the same thing.

A reliable Career Self-Assessment Test (CSAT) can assist men and women reel in comprehensive images of themselves; the way they behave, the things that inspire them, and exactly what influences them. The CSAT may even uncover people’s talents, merits and passions. This self-assessment test simply furnishes internship petitioners with impressive resources for selecting the most ideal college training program to launch their careers.

Most university vocational centers can assist college grads in setting up their personal evaluation.

Graduates may wish to take the self-assessment plunge by themselves; the Internet is full of career self-assessment tests for men and women looking for internships. A one of the most well-liked CSAT is found here.

2) Study and Analyze the Nine-to-Five World

“The person who gives you your first job is so important in any industry.” – Christopher Eccleston

 The British actor who said this probably knew everything about the people who gave him his internship. Eccleston most certainly knew what his attributes were early on, and he also may have researched the entertainment industry really hard before landing his first job that helped Eccleston become the well-known Hollywood actor he is today.

Learning about industries, occupations, and businesses enables college intern applicants to design specific resumes and to come up with checklists of establishments to send them to.

There actually are several ways to examine the nine-to-five world; the following Q&A sheet, broken up into search methods may offer intern hopefuls basic ideas on how to evaluate the job arena:

A. Probe Industries

Imagine a college grad seeks an internship and knows exactly what business sector interests him or her; for instance, the person would enjoy working on something that requires “mathematics” but has absolutely no idea just what particular kinds of careers he or she would enjoy doing.

Just what kind of work is offered in this particular sector?

  • Surf targeted “professions” and “occupations” on the Internet to obtain a rundown of practical career routes.

What exactly are these professionals called?

  • Talk to individuals employed in specific sectors that involve working with the chosen industry.

What are the job functions?

  • Explore career profiles for entry-level posts and companies that hire college-graduate interns.

B. Investigate Unique Position Titles or Job Functions

Imagine that an intern candidate has already pinpointed a series of expertise he or she might want to work with, but does not recognize the titles of job functions that employ such abilities.

Do interns need to be qualified?

  • Research business career databases on the Internet for companies that seek interns with specific skills.

How much will an intern make?

  • Google search the CSAT findings.

C. Probe Individual Companies

Reading up on organizations enables internship seekers to learn if companies are genuinely considering hiring them; additionally, being simply well-informed prior to college graduates talking to hiring managers is vital to their self-marketing.

What does the organization do?

What is the organization’s culture and what type of people work there?

  • Find out just how the company defines itself, browse through their web page for job openings, and check out annual reports and newsworthy items.

How large is the organization?

  • Speak with in private with professionals, specifically, an existing or previous staff member or a well-informed expert in the field.

3) Take A Course of Action

“You can’t make decisions based on fear and the possibility of what might happen.” – Michelle Obama

What the First Lady said is correct; well, at least for program internship candidates who are having trouble figuring out which direction to take after self-accessing themselves; and after researching the business world. Most intern hopefuls start asking themselves many questions at this stage.

  • Do I need to decide now which career I want?
  • What skills am I lacking?
  • What will happen if I make the wrong choice? What will mom and dad say?
  • If I don’t act now, what is the worst that can happen?
  • Should I work part-time or full-time?

No one person can decide an individual’s career-course; college graduates must do this for themselves. However, there is one highly-effective online decision making tool that can help reduce an intern candidate’s stress and take the fear out of making reasonable decisions.

Plus, Minus, Interesting (PMI) Decision Making

The PMI tool is a concept that author, Edward de Bono, thought up and published in his book, “De Bono’s Thinking Course.”

PMI can guide college grads in making tough career decisions fairly quickly through brainstorming the advantages and disadvantages of choices. This pro and con decision-making approach is really effective in; broadening an individuals understanding of a dilemma or a conclusion; and in unmasking concerns that the user may not have thought about.

A complete explanation about the tool and how to use the PMI approach can be found here at the website. also offers grad students other free-of-charge decision making and problem solving solutions for confused internship candidates who are undecided on which direction to take.


Higher income (+4)
Have to learn new systems (-2)
Challenge myself professionally? (+4)
Get to meet new people (+3)
Higher cost of living (-4)
Will be living in cool city (+3)
Stepping stone in career (+4)
Have to move (-5)
Longer hours (-4)

I Found the Dream Internship That I Was Looking For!   ….. Now What?

– Easy answer! Let the firm know that you are the only person for the job.

Most internship candidates only get one chance to make first impressions for employers, and that one chance usually comes on paper rather than in a meeting. Great resumes and cover letters stand out and separate the excellent candidates from the mediocre ones.

“One picture is worth a thousand words,”

…an old adage tells us; so, it may not be a bad idea for college grads to learn how to develop, design and deliver AAA+ resumes to hiring managers responsible for giving green lights to “pie-in-the-sky” student internship programs.

Engineering Internship Resumes in Five Easy Steps

Powerful resumes accomplish more than just running through college history and work background; they point out the results of hard work and bring forth distinct similarities between a person’s abilities and knowledge and a company’s needs.

Intern applicants may now be thinking, “I don’t have enough experience to make my resume stand out,” or simply, “I have absolutely no clue how to put a stellar picture of myself on paper.”

Most people who landed excellent post-graduate training programs had the same questions just prior to writing their curriculums. However, a majority of these folks managed to build their resumes to stand by following five basic steps (outlined below), which paved the way for producing one-of-kind resumes that hiring mangers noticed.

Action One: Think Through the Job Posting

Review posting summaries carefully then afterwards take note of all the keywords that point out desired expertise, strengths, characteristics, and qualifications listed in the description.

Always include job description keywords through the resume!

Example: If recruiters are trying to find individuals who are cutting-edge, prompt, and stick to the nitty-gritty, then intern applicants should work these exact terms within their curriculums.

Action Two: Develop an Outline of Achievements

Create an achievement list, highlighting indulged activities, success stories and really impressive accomplishments. Include work-study experience, Pro-Bono activities, projects, college papers, globe-trotting, and team-effort success stories.

Always market yourself!

Concentrate on the consequences of your efforts, and quantify them. Include these items, sporadically, throughout different sections in the curriculum. Never be modest! Resumes are really marketing instruments.

Action Three: Pinpoint Important Skills

Describe work experience so that it emphasizes personal knowledge and make sure that it relates to the job description.

Design work experience to match the job description!

Verify that every single skill-set provides focus on an aptitude that the recruiter is trying to find.

resume-writingAction Four: Use Illustrative (Action) Phrases

Develop short and powerful sentences detailing talent and expertise. Make a good attempt to position these illustrative phrases in chronological order with the most pertinent info appearing in the beginning of the resume.

Use action verbs!

Action Verb List for Resumes and Cover Letters

No action verbs example: I helped write a marking survey and did the research.

Using action verbs example: Analyzed demographics and developed marketing plans

Action Five: Select a Style and a Resume Format

Though resume layouts may be appealing, they have the tendency to be rigid; additionally, recruiters certainly know what they look like and could view a person who wrote a generic resume as lacking creativity.

A creative resume always stands out! 

There is fine line between going creatively overboard and standing out in a crowd when designing curriculums. Listed here are the most common styles used by professionals today. College graduates can review these resume examples to help them decide on how to create their own individual styles.

Resume Writing Suggestions for College Students

  • Replace all high-school relevant job history and achievements with college-level experiences.
  • Substitute deficiencies in workplace expertise with the higher-education achievements found in “Action Two.”
  • Work with an expert when constructing the very first resume, or consult with college career advisers to help out.
  • Never become disappointed or aggravated in the event that a resume does not attract attention the first time around. Resumes evolve frequently. 

Emailing Your Curriculum

Prior to emailing a resume, search for the hiring manager’s file-format acceptance choice. Several recruiters welcome attachments; many others would like to receive curricula within the content of the email text. For those intern applicants who can’t figure out what the recruiter wants, send both an attachment and content-text together in a single email. College graduates should also include a cover letter, unless advised not to. Folks should always send resumes and cover letters in one single e mail message.

Helpful links:

 Checking Out Sample Resumes and Other Online Tips

OMG! I Got an Interview! How Can I Nail This?

Getting Ready for Internship Interview Shakedowns

internship-interviewSimilar to midterms, interviews demand plenty of prep work. To succeed in getting an offer, most college intern candidates need to reexamine job requirements and reevaluate companies to prepare themselves for challenging discussions.

Should I do my homework on the position or employer?

Definitely! Interviewees should certainly find out everything they can relative to the hiring manager’s firm, including the organization’s culture, its product lines, its vision and its employee expectations.

Learning more about the way businesses compare with other competing establishments will also lend a hand in discussions with recruiters. The most effective place college intern candidates can begin their reexamination quest is at company websites.

Should I ask the hiring manager questions?

This would definitely not be a bad idea! Take approximately five questions to the interview. Asking serious questions is really a superb method in demonstrating enthusiasm; question asking also displays that the person has indeed done their homework.

Graduates should stay away from questions, which answers are effortlessly located on the firm’s website or blog; usually, the hiring manager will ask the intern candidate if they have any questions at the end of the interview.

Really, Send a Thank-You Letter?

Without a doubt! Interviewees must regularly write thank-you notes after every interview. People should write their notes in an email or letter and send it within forty-eight hours to the hiring manager with carbon copies to people they have gotten to know during the meeting.

What’s This? An Offer Letter?

Understanding, Negotiating and Accepting Internship Offers

Prepare yourself! When applicants work hard, they just might land an internship offer (or perhaps a few for that matter). Yet once college graduates receive a proposal in writing, their internship quest is not finished; very soon they will need to make a decision on whether or not to accept the offer.

Stereotypical Internship packages and proposals

Written internship offers and proposals confirm that the company wants the applicant to work for them and usually contains the terms of employment, including:

  • Internship job description
  • How much the applicant will make
  • What day they can start
  • Their Manager’s title
  • Timeline for answering back.

Recruiters will definitely let applicants know if their proposals are contingent upon them successfully passing a background check or a drug-screening test. The company, may, likewise incorporate fringe benefit information in their internship offer letters, including medical insurance information, quality-of-work-life program details, and holiday and vacation policy.

If folks do not get written material on benefits, they can usually ask the recruiter to send it before making their decision.

Let’s make a deal

student-interview-internshipUniversity graduates may well choose to take the internship job immediately after looking into comparable wages and discovering that their proposal is reasonable. In a few other examples, individuals might prefer to hammer out a deal.

It is very important to understand for entry-level, internship applicants with offers usually do not possess a great deal of leeway for haggling. Recruiters to a smaller extent may not bargain in weaker job markets.

In the event that prospective interns decide to cut a deal, they must contact hiring managers as soon as possible and be professional during every conversation.

Giving the green or red light to an offer.

So, there you have it, a comprehensive guide to college internships. There is really not much more to say about the subject; let’s end this guide with a quote from a very wise man.

 “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” ― Confucius