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8 Steps to Land Your Dream Internship

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Creative Commons License photo credit: marfis75

In less than three months college students across the country will begin their summer internships which will likely be a boon for their future employment opportunities.  According to National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), 70 % of those who intern are offered full time employment either by the company or through their network.

If you haven’t started looking for your summer internship, now is the time to get cracking according to Emily Bennington, founder of Professional Studio 365 and author of  “Effective Immediately: How to Fit In, Stand Out, and Move Up at Your First Real Job”.  During a recent #Collegechat, Bennington recommended the following steps to students to land their dream internships.

Start early. Students should start their search for an internship at least two to three months before they would like to begin. So, if you are interested in having an internship beginning in June, you need to start looking by March.

Make a list. Students should start with their dream companies and expand from there. Bennington recommends students have at least 25 companies on their initial list. Mark Babbit, CEO of Youtern,  added, “Once you have a list of dream companies, check out their competitors. Their competitors may be more dynamic and welcoming.”

Identify target internships. According to Bennington, the Internet is a great place for students to research internships. Bennington recommends students check out Intern Queen,  an online internship destination that helps students find and apply for internships while also educating them on how to make the most of their experiences. Bennington also recommends that students check out Internships.com, which describes itself as the world’s largest marketplace for internships. Interested in a social media internship? Internships.com lists 3651 available internships in social media alone including one with Charlie Sheen. Youtern is another resource that according to Babbitt, ”Focuses on mentor-based internships where those entering the workforce contribute right away.”

Twitter is another great social media source for looking for both jobs and internships according to Bennington. She recommends students check k out the tweets of http://twitter.com/#!/jobhuntorg.  Job-hunt.org maintains a list of the “Top 50 Employers Recruiting on Twitter” at http://www.job-hunt.org/job-search-news/2009/06/09/top-50-employers-recruiting-on-twitter/.  MonsterCollege –http://twitter.com/#!/monstercollege – is another great resource on Twitter and at http://college.monster.com/education for both college students looking for internships as well as graduates looking for jobs.

Students should also look for internships through their own personal networks including family, friends, and social media contacts including those on LinkedIn. And last but not least, don’t forget to utilize your college’s Alumni network in your search. After all, they have been there and done that.

Take an internship predictor test. For students not sure what kind of internship to look for, check out the free internship predictor application at http://www.internships.com/predictor. Students should also be able to take a career assessment test at their college’s career services office.

Make sure internship is legitimate. Try to find other students who have done the internship before you and ask them about their experience. Also, look up the company that you are interested in with the Better Business Bureau. According to Bennington, a legitimate internship should have learning objectives and be part of a formal program.  InternshipRatings.com and InternshipKing.com both offer ratings of internships.

Beware of “premium” And “u-pay internships.” Students should be very careful about “u-pay” and “premium” internships Bennington warned. “It’s best if the internships comes through the school.”

Some of these all-inclusive oversea internships, according to Babbit, CEO  of YouTern, cost $5000 to $10,000, and although many parents may be willing to pay for them,  are not necessary.

Open a LinkedIn account. Ideally, college students should have a LinkedIn account long before they start looking for an internship explained Bennington. “High school isn’t too early for a LinkedIn profile either,” said Bennington. “Fill it up with volunteer work and get a head start.”

Outshine the other applicants. The first step to outshine other applicants and to get your foot in the door for an interview, is to have a well thought  out and well written resume. “The best resumes showcase accomplishments and not just responsibilities,” said Bennington.

The next step is to do the research on the company you are interviewing with. Go to LinkedIn and learn as much as you can about the person interviewing you as well as the company. “Company research is so important,” said Bennington. “I am always surprised at how many candidates don’t know the basics.”

The final step actually begins after the student starts the internship. Bennington recommends that interns email their bosses weekly with a list of accomplishments, areas for input, and goals for the week ahead.  This final step will not only help you stand out during your internship, but will help position you for your next internship or job after graduation.