Summer is a prime time to focus on an internship. With little to no class work during the summer, it is the most optimal time to experience the real world and completely immerse yourself into a life-changing professional experience. Now’s the time, PRSSA members, to hone in on your best professionalism and start preparing for your summer internship. Here are a few tips to help you along the way:
Schedule an “internship prep” weekend
It’s easy to lose track of time during a busy semester. Students aren’t usually prepared to think several months down the road when they’re currently stressing over the next 24 hours. This is why you should look at your calendar right now and mark off one weekend when you can set aside a large chunk of time to research and prepare for summer internships. If you don’t set this time aside, it simply won’t happen, and you’ll be missing application deadlines and ultimately missing out on that perfect opportunity.
During this time, create or review your résumé, evaluate your personal brand and start picturing what internships would be ideal for your skillset and passions. Start a spreadsheet that lists internships you’re interested in applying for along with application deadlines, requirements and a list of any possible connections. Visit the PRSSA Internship Center and research positions; even post your resume for employers across the country to view. Most importantly, take this time to do the things that you often think of doing but don’t have time for, like starting your portfolio or building your own website. This type of preparation makes a huge difference and you will ultimately be less stressed throughout the semester.
Set a strict timeline
Once you’ve reviewed and refreshed your professional toolkit, create a timeline and set up reminders so that you turn everything in as planned. Consider adding certain weeks to your timeline when you want to try connecting with someone who could help you land an interview. Include all deadlines and mark certain weeks for interview prep and research. It might even help to share this timeline with your friends and family to increase your likelihood of success. It’s no surprise that future interns who strategically plan their internship process are much more likely to succeed.
Engage with your university
Your school has a career center and alumni relations office for a reason, and you should use it to prepare for your future. This is the semester to walk in and schedule an appointment with academic professionals who can walk you through interview tips and professional etiquette, as well as critique your résumé. These offices have the ability to connect you with countless alumni who are more than willing to assist you in the internship search, as well as show you internship opportunities you can’t find on your own. Utilizing these tools will greatly benefit your chances of finding and getting accepted into your dream internship program.
Apply and conquer
Now that you’ve refreshed, researched and scheduled your semester, it’s time to finally hit the send button and watch all your hard work pay off. Instead of stressing over deadlines and cover letter content, you’ll be prepared and well-read on all of your dream internship opportunities, feeling less stressed and able to show employers the passion and excitement you truly have for the position.
The beginning of spring semester is an overwhelming time for all of us. However, those who truly want to nail this summer’s internship opportunities are the ones who follow tips like the ones above. Visualize how you’ll feel this coming summer when you look back on week one of spring semester and realize the value of planning ahead and the accomplishment it brought you.
“Intern Talk” is a guest column produced by Jonathan Hill, 2014–2015 vice president of career services. You can follow him on Twitter @JonJonHill. The column covers various aspects of the public relations industry, giving PRSSA members the tools to secure internships and make the most of their professional experiences. For more career resources, visit the PRSSA Career Manual and Internship Center.