A Beginner’s Guide to Getting an Internship

By Elena

Many people seem to believe an internship is something you shouldn’t worry about until you’re in college, however there are plenty of opportunities for high school students as well. Last year, as an incoming high school junior, I managed to get an internship at my state’s university. To read a little bit about my experience, you can check out the post I wrote on our patreon

Photo by Cytonn Photography on Pexels.com

Apply, apply, apply!

You absolutely have to apply for an internship if you want it! I know, it can be extremely daunting to fill out those applications, and to put together a resume, especially when you have no previous work experience. 

Filling out your first application isn’t something you should put off. Almost every single other person filling out that application, if not all of them, doesn’t have any prior experience either. And even if they do, there’s so many other ways to stand out, and so many better ways to do so. 

Furthermore, the more internships you apply for, the more likely you are to actually get one, and the more choices you’ll end up leaving yourself with. When applying for internships last year, I only applied to one because I thought I was under qualified and doubted I could even get that one, but because I applied, I got the internship. Not only that, I was also told I had an amazing application, especially for someone so young.

I promise you, your resume may look a little barren and filling out that application may stress you out, but just do it. You don’t have anything to lose, except for that internship if you don’t apply.

Just ask

If you live in an area where there are scarcely any internships, or there’s just a specific place you want to intern for, just ask!

If you know someone who works there, you can ask them if they know anything about internships, or you can just send an email asking for one. Even if they have information about internships on their website but nowhere to apply, that doesn’t mean they aren’t looking for one, so just send that email, or give them a call and ask.

I know so many people who got an internship simply because they asked for one. It does work, and it’s definitely something you should try.

Scout early

A lot of the places that do have applications will have deadlines a few months in advance. If you’re searching for a summer internship, starting your search in April will already be too late. Most of those places are already going to have their intern positions filled. Of course, you can always email places, however just to be safe, you should probably start a bit earlier.

Most of the internships I have looked at tend to have their deadlines about 3-4 months in advance. 

Thus, these are my recommendations:

  1. Figure out your application list 5-6 months before you want the internship. Again, if this is a summer internship, you should know where you want to apply before March 1st hits, and you should know all of the deadlines so you can plan accordingly.
  2. Ask your school counselor if they know about any internships 7-8 months before you want one. If you’re looking for a summer internship, try to ask before January, January at the absolute latest. Although they might not know about every opportunity, they should be able to help you by at least helping you know where to look.
  3. Ask for the letters of recommendation early! As soon as you figure out your application list, start asking your teachers for letters. They have a lot of work they need to do, and you are not going to get that letter on time if you ask a week in advance, just ask any of the seniors applying for college.

Proofreading!

You need to proofread! And then have someone else proofread! Especially if it’s your first time applying for any sort of job, you want to have someone read through everything, because I guarantee you’ve made at least one rookie mistake.

Think about how you’re presenting yourself in your application. Try to come off as confident, and make it seem like you would be a great fit for the position. An internship is a learning opportunity, make it clear you intend for it to be just that.

You can also ask people to proofread to see if they have any suggestions. Perhaps there’s a skill you have they think you should add, or there’s something unnecessary on your application or on your resume. When I filled out my application last year, there were so many changes the people I asked to proofread everything suggested for me to make. 

Don’t hold yourself back

Many of my friends last year chose not to apply for internships because they didn’t think they would be able to get one. Don’t hold yourself back like they did. Internships are a great way to not only make yourself stand out on college applications, but they’re also a great way for you to figure out what you’re passionate about and what you could see yourself doing. If you’re stuck between two career choices, getting an internship in one of them could help you decide.

Furthermore, don’t be afraid to look at internships a bit further away from home. There’s plenty of them out there, and looking into them never hurts, especially if there’s an internship that you’re really interested in. 

Just apply, there’s not much harm in it!

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