How to Get an Internship

by Clara Butler

Be prepared for the next career fair at Barnard!

After successfully securing an internship for this fall, I thought that I would share some of my knowledge about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to trying to get an internship. My first tip? Take a deep breath. My first internship was this past summer, and I thought that I was late to the game. Even if you’re a senior without a single internship on your resume, you’re going to be just fine (especially if you follow these tips).

What works: Applying for internships that are during the fall or spring semester. If you can plan your classes wisely enough to have a few free days during the week, employers will want to snatch you up on account of the limited number of young people who live in the city during the year. Summer internships are much more competitive and much harder to get but not entirely impossible if that is the only time you could do an internship.

What doesn’t: Applying directly on an employer’s website. When looking for an internship the first time around, I went to all of my favorite websites and submitted tons of applications but it felt like I was just flushing my resume down a toilet. Often times, the online portals that you use to apply to internships are crowded with hundreds of applications and will never be seen by a recruiter.

Confidence is key.

What works: Career fairs! I cannot stress enough how helpful career fairs have been in making contacts for potential internships. Try and get a business card from everyone you talk to because rather than get stuck in a faceless online application process, you can directly email this person and send them a follow-up email telling them how interested you are in the position (and the company).

What doesn’t: Having no relevant experience. This is a tricky one because, theoretically, internships are safe spaces to try out a potential career in the lowest possible position. Yet, due to the competitive nature of internships (especially in New York City), resumes with experience that are related to the position you are applying to is super helpful. But don’t worry if you’ve never had an internship before, this relevant experience doesn’t need to just be other internships. Last year, for example, I thought that I might be interested in Public Relations so I joined the Committee on Public Relations within SGA to learn more about PR and social media. So even things like clubs can really land you that internship if you make sure to talk them up and tell employers how valuable they are.

What works: and Nacelink. After browsing the website for hours upon hours and submitting dozens of resumes through it, I finally gave up and turned to InternMatch is a lot more helpful because you can search internship postings by the date that they were last edited so you know which positions are currently vacant and which ones may have already been filled. Another great feature is that you can see the range of people who have applied to those positions. I tried to only apply to positions with 10-20 other applicants and it was the best way that I got interviews for internships. Nacelink is also a great resource because people contact Barnard directly and ask for students to apply to their internships since Barnard students are always the best successful and professional, especially within the internship realm.

What Doesn’t: Being self-conscious. A mistake I made this summer was over-analyzing what a recruiter thought of me. I had interviewed for this company and not gotten the internship but they encouraged me to apply for the fall, something I was too intimidated to do since I thought that they already hated me (stupid, right?). But chances are, they don’t even remember you. So say you send too many emails or you bombed the interview, still keep in contact with them because you’re only going to get better and if they don’t want you now, they will definitely want you later!

What Works: Building up to your dream internship. If there is a company you really want to work for, but you’ve been (or think you might be) rejected right off the bat, use internships at smaller/less competitive companies to gain relevant experience one day you’ll land that dream internship! I didn’t end up landing a single internship in New York this past summer so instead, I worked at a small company (think four people) but learned skills that eventually got me a job at a highly respected fashion label. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’ll admit that my mom definitely helped me land my summer internship by putting me in contact with some people she knew, but often times people want to help you succeed. Once you land the first one, you can move up on your own.

Clara Butler is a junior at Barnard and the Girl Talk and Opinions editor for The Nine Ways of Knowing. 

Images courtesy of Barnard College.


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