Being in your third or fourth year of college is going to be some of the hardest years of your life. It isn’t because of the upper level courses or the twenty page papers you have to write, it is because you have to find an internship. Having an internship before graduating has become a vital part in the American schooling system. Not having prior experience before entering the workplace can be the thing that kills your career because no one wants to hire someone without experience. It sounds intimidating, but there are companies worldwide that are seeking young students to work for them. Though most are unpaid, the experience you receive is payment enough. I hope illustrating my experience of getting an internship will give you valuable advice for you to get yours.
1. Get on LinkedIn
64% of employers will look at your LinkedIn account before hiring you (Robert Walters). If you don’t have an account, there won’t be much for them to find. Get an account, get a professional headshot done (which can be done at the Career and Internship Fair at Ohio State), and write a descriptive yet simple professional biography about yourself. From that point, start connecting with EVERYONE you know. Who knows? Your future boss could be connected with an old friend from high school.
Now that you have a LinkedIn, start networking! Follow companies that you want to work with and that will already put you ahead of your fellow classmates. Another way to network is by reaching out to companies you want to intern with. Look up contact information, send them an email stating you are looking for an internship, read it twice, and wait. Sometimes you will hear a response immediately, and other times they will never respond. That is why you need to have a Plan Z. The more options you allow yourself, the more likely you are to get a response. Of course, there are always career fairs that you can visit to get your name out.
3. Be Annoying, but Not Obnoxious
At this point, you have networked yourself the best that you can. If you get no responses or none of the ones you were seeking, it is in your best interest not to wait around. You need to reach out again and ask if they got your emails and if they have any questions. If you don’t take that step, you just did a lot of hard work for nothing. I practice at a dojo and we have a saying that goes, “patience without perseverance is laziness.” You can’t do work, wait, then be upset that you weren’t offered an internship. You need to contact the employers you want to work for often enough so that they recognize your name, but not so often that they will delete your email the moment they see it.
These three tips are ones that I have learned at my time at Ohio State, and they are the three tips that got me my internship at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). My goal for a long time was to intern with United Way, but when they told me that their Spring intern was staying for the summer, I knew that I needed to come up with another plan. I looked up non-profit companies in Toledo, Ohio (which is where I am from) and started doing my homework. I emailed numerous businesses and received only four responses out of the ten messages I sent. The development coordinator of NAMI reached out to me within twelve hours of sending my message, asked for a phone interview, and connected with me on LinkedIn. I had my parents network for me in Toledo (since they both work for non-profits), and awaited my phone call. After ten minutes, I was offered the Summer position. Though I know it won’t be that easy for many of you, following those three steps will increase your professional portfolio and will spread your name for employers to see nationwide.
Brooke is a second year student at the Ohio State University with an anticipated graduation of May 2020. She is majoring in Strategic Communication and double-minoring in Professional Writing and Nonprofit Studies. She plans on doing marketing, advertising, or event planning for a nonprofit after graduation.