Everyone has dreams, but not everyone has their dream internship. Is yours at a startup? The environment is relaxed. The dress code isn’t binding. Almost everyone is twenty-something– making them that much more relatable—and you work closely with your team to foster a tightly-bound network. Or, perhaps, your dream internship entails a Fortune 500 company. The atmosphere is perpetually lively. Documents are crisp, suits are crisper, your team is effortlessly composed, yet you’re positive no one has slept. Or, is your dream something in between? Internships with happy mediums of workaholics, novel ideas, brand names and intimate connections.
Whatever the case, the job market has become increasingly competitive, and most undergraduates are scrambling to build up their resumes with relevant work experience. Everyone is crossing their fingers for that one internship that they believe will put them ahead of the crowd. As an employee of the Boston College Career Center, I’ve seen the back ropes of the internship search process, and I have a few guiding words to offer.
1. Start early and get organized.
Do some research ahead of time concerning companies and responsibilities. You want to be sure the company’s values align with your own and that their work-life balance is manageable for your specific needs. Similarly, research the different fields within companies to get better acquainted with a specific job you can imagine yourself doing. For instance, if you’re pursuing marketing, like myself, that word alone encompasses a huge scope of possibilities in the job realm. There’s affiliate marketing, outbound marketing, relationship marketing, field marketing, and the list goes on. I can’t stress enough how many times I’ve spoken to students who started interning for what they thought was their dream job, but wound up not liking the work or what the company stood for. So look early and weed out the roles or companies you’re not too fond of.
2. Reach out to important names.
So now you’re organized. You know what you want to do and who you want to work for. The next step is to actually get in contact with the people involved. Use powerful tools like LinkedIn, or your university’s alumni database if you have one, to start a conversation with the head of your favorite company. These platforms serve as direct avenues to the field. Shoot the CEO a message to let her know you’re interested in the business and ask how she first got involved. Almost everyone loves to talk about themselves, so she might gladly jump into her backstory. But, be careful not to sound overeager. This is not your opportunity to immediately ask for an internship, but rather a chance to begin networking with big names in your field.
3. Ask around.
Talk about yourself! Talk about your interests, your career goals, your ideas. It may seem silly now, but chances are your best friend’s dad’s co-worker is cousins with the CEO of the company you’re dying to work for. You could have connections you wouldn’t even dream about, but you’ll never get your foot in the door of a company if nobody knows you’re looking.
SEE ALSO: The 10 Commandments of Resume Writing
4. Get to know the Career Center staff.
The Career Center is a wonderful place, and I’m not just saying that because they sign my paycheck. The staff is specifically there to work with you and guide you vocationally. Most offer workshops or appointments to improve your resume, your LinkedIn profile, or anything else that needs improving. Not to mention, many employers go directly to the career center when recruiting. If you get to know the staff, they might put a good word in for you. It never hurts to get to know the people that run the whole thing!
5. Don’t get discouraged.
If you gave it your best but still didn’t land your dream internship, don’t let it get to you. You may have had one specific internship in mind, but the beauty is that there are hundreds of similar jobs that provide relevant work experience. Not to mention, you never know why they didn’t pick you from the whirlpool of applications. They could’ve hired the boss’ much less qualified son for all you know. It doesn’t reflect on your character, so chin up and keep applying!
Joelle Resnik is a student at Boston College pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in both Economics and Communications. She will try to tell you she kayaks in her free time, but you can most definitely find her napping. Don’t confuse her for her twin sister.