Most of these steps relate directly to the process of locating and securing a non-credit internship. However, whether you are pursuing an internship for credit through your academic program and designated faculty member or whether you are searching for a non-credit internship that is for personal and professional growth, the following steps are worth considering as you seek to secure a career-related internship.
The steps in looking for an internship are not much different than that of looking for a job. First, you need to do a self-assessment of your interests and career goals. The internships you look into should meet both short-term and long-term goals. Also consider how far you are able to travel to your internship and whether you need a paid position. These can be important factors to consider as you focus on your options.
2. Research and Network
After thinking through what you are looking for, search for companies that offer internship opportunities. Utilize Career Central and Vault to identify internship opportunities as well as research and review company profiles. Also, don’t forget about BJU alumni with whom you can network through the BJU Alumni Field Guide or through Career Central (under Job Postings select BJU Alumni within the Industry options; alumni who act as contact persons for their employers may identify themselves in Career Central accordingly). You should start looking for an internship or for summer opportunities at least six months prior the time you want to begin, considering deadlines. Gather as much information as you can regarding opportunities of interest. Contact your academic program chair for credit-related internship opportunities.
“Researching Employers”–from NACE’s Job Choices, February 2013
3. Gather Information
Remember that there are internships that are not posted, so if you are interested in a particular location and company, you should contact them to get more information. You should call their human resources department to ask if they offer internships. Make it known what your interest is in the company and share your resume to express formal interest. If they do offer internships, ask if they would be willing to set up an informational meeting with you—this can be done on the phone, through email, or in person. Through this meeting you would want to get the specifics of their requirements, the application deadline, and the specifics of their hiring process for future reference.
NOTE: Pursuing an internship (either for credit or for non-credit) to gain career-related experience is helpful in preparing for future full-time employment. If your major offers the option for completing an internship for credit and you want to pursue it for credit, contact your department chair or internship coordinatorprior to applying for internships. Your department chair will assess whether or not an opportunity qualifies as a “for credit” internship and if you meet the eligibility requirements to register for the applicable internship course.
Once you know all your options and you have narrowed down the opportunities to those that interest you, you need to begin the application process. Make sure you know what each company requires and what qualifications they seek for the position. You will want to highlight these qualifications in your cover letter and resume. Some companies will also ask for a writing sample, a transcript, or a formal job application. Note what each company requires in their application process and stay on top of each deadline.
5. Follow Up
After you have completed the application process, let a few days go by and then follow up to make sure the recruiter received all the required information. If you submitted your application a week or more before the deadline, follow up the day of the deadline to see if you need to provide anything else to help them make their decision. Do not feel like you are annoying the recruiter–your persistence will show how interested you are in the opportunity and how diligently you will work on the job. However, do remember that it can take a month or more to make these decisions in a company, so be patient.
The next step is interviewing. Remember, your internship could become your full-time employment, so you want to be well prepared and give a good impression. Even if you do not receive the internship, you may end up applying for a job with this company after graduation; they will likely remember your first impression. After you interview, always send a thank you note as a follow up. This is a great way to help you recap your interest in the company.
7. Accept Offer & Withdraw Others
Make sure you consider all internship offers. Do not feel like you have to respond right away to an offer. You should not keep a recruiter waiting for more than a week for a response (you should ask them for a deadline). It is okay to be open and honest with them, letting them know where you stand if you are waiting for another company to get in touch with you. Notify the company you are waiting for that you do have an offer that you need to respond to by a specific date. This may motivate the other company you are waiting for to reach a decision. Finally, after accepting an offer, make sure you notify all the companies where you interviewed. Thank them for the opportunity to interview.