This post was written as part of my role with Indiana INTERNnet and was originally published here.
Many degree programs require students to obtain an internship experience for credit. It is something that is expressed in the graduation requirements that freshmen learn about, but at that point junior or senior year can feel very far off. It is important to keep internships in the back of your mind, no matter what point you’re at in your college career. It can be difficult to work these types of roles into your schedule, and if you wait until the last chance to get an internship under your belt it may not be an experience that proves helpful for your post-graduation pursuits.
Here are three tips to help keep you on track:
Keep tabs on your favorite companies
Do some research on companies in your area and figure out which ones you’d like to look for. Keep a spreadsheet handy and record all the details you can find about their internship programs. For example, do they seek interns year round or only in the summer? Are the positions paid or unpaid?
If possible, find someone who has previously interned for each organization. Ask them about the process they went through to get hired and see if they have any tips for you.
If you’re able to find a document or webpage that gives a deadline for previous intern positions, use that timeline to estimate when to look out for their next hiring session. When the time comes for you to start applying, pull up your spreadsheet and start with those companies.
Doing research ahead of time not only gives you a better idea of what you can expect from each company’s internship program, it will also let you learn more about the company as a whole – something that will look great in interviews!
Set reminders for yourself
Once you’ve done your research, you will probably have a pretty good idea of when local companies post their open internship positions for the fall, spring and summer.
The timeline of this process works a little bit differently for every organization. As internship guru Intern Queen points out, larger companies are more likely to post open positions early. As a rule of thumb, be on the lookout for fall internship applications beginning in June, spring applications starting in September and summer applications beginning in February.
If you have a list of places you are interested in, keep track of their hiring timeline in your calendar. Set reminders for yourself to go online and see if the companies have posted their positions yet. It is important that you make time to find the right role for you, not only for your degree requirements but for your future career.
Use your resources wisely
To simplify the internship search process, make the most of the resources you have at hand. Internship or job databases, like our very own IndianaINTERN.net allow you to look at multiple opportunities as once and compare roles easily. Most universities have one or many email lists that notify students of opportunities as well.
If you’re unsure of where to go, start by connecting with someone at your university’s career services office or talk to an advisor to see what resources they recommend.
Remember, it’s never too early to begin looking for an internship. Junior or senior year can creep up on you, so it is important to keep internships in the back of your mind. Many degree programs require internships and they are invaluable real-world experiences, so do your research, set some reminders and utilize your resources at hand as early as possible.