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So You Want an Internship, Where Should You Begin?

by | May 3, 2021 | Internships

Every current student should do an internship during college if they can. The biggest challenge for a busy student is how to find internship opportunities. This will outline exactly how to prepare to apply for internship opportunities, and what places to begin the search!

Benefits of Internship Opportunities  

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Fitting at least one internship should be a priority for college students. Summer interns gain an immersive internship experience of working in your field. Doing an internship does not always have to be a full-time summer internship, you can complete a part-time during the semester. Some are fortunate enough to get their first internship experience as high school students, but most get the experience while in higher education as undergraduate or graduate students. 

In terms of payment, most internship student programs are paid on unpaid internships, on stipends, or for academic credit. 

By doing an internship, you will gain industry insights, start a professional network, build up your work experiences for future career opportunities, and possibly find full-time employment post-graduation!

Prepare Materials to Apply for Internship Programs

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Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst


The most important part of a resume is that it is easy to read and follow. While it is tempting to make a cute resume with different colors, text, and backgrounds, but that runs the risk of looking unprofessional and getting sorted out by human resources or recruiters Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). ATS is a system that companies frequently use to sort through applications. To avoid that, have an ATS-optimized resume and include keywords from the job description. 

The rules of a resume are having 10 to 12 point font of Times New Roman or another standard font. Then, keep it to one page when applying to internships. Utilize italics, bolding, capitalization to format your different sections and titles. Under each experience, list bullet points of what you did in that role and how you did it. In those bullet points, use action verbs in the past tense to describe your experience. For some students, putting your GPA on a resume can help, but only do this if your GPA is over 3.5. 

For more throughout, idea on how to have a great resume for applying for internships, read “6 Ways to Make Your Resume Stand Out” and “What to Include on Your Resume for an Internship”

Cover Letter

Yes, you will need to make a custom cover letter for each internship you apply to. It seems time-consuming, but in reality, you are more likely to move on for that job. Therefore, it will take less time to find the ideal internship and have a shorter search. 

A cover letter is the same as a resume with less is more. You want to highlight your key points that are applicable to the job, rather than a history. You want to make this letter be about them. Do this by finding the person who it will go to and address them, including how you found the internship and how excited you are to apply. 

For a sample cover letter, read this blog post on “How to Write an Internship Cover Letter That Makes You Stand Out”


No need to put references on a resume or cover letter, unless specifically requested. Regardless, you will be asked at some point for references. Ask two to three individuals to be references for you. 

For more on who should be a reference and how to ask someone to be a reference, read the blog “How to Ask Someone to Be a Reference”

Where to Look for Internship Opportunities

A man looking at a computer screen, at a desk.
Photo by Rohann Agalawatte from Burst
  • Previous Network Connections: Look on LinkedIn to see if your connections have open jobs at their organizations. Then, you can have informational interviews with them and hopefully get referred to the position by them. 
  • Networking: When interested in an internship, it is great to network with those in the company so your name stands out in the process.
  • University Recommended Websites: These websites will have a process to be approved, and the companies want individuals from your university. For example, the University of Wisconsin uses Handshake and employers post their jobs there exclusive to UW students. 
  • Look Local: while there are many internship programs in big cities such as New York and Washington, D.C, those internships are highly competitive and limited. Consider looking for internships in your hometown at local businesses.
  • Keep an Ear Out: In college, professors will at times share internship opportunities with their classes. Also, keeping an ear out with any casual connections is a great idea. 
  • Cold Email: This is a scarier way to gain an internship, although the payoff can be very worth it! It is smart to only cold email companies that do not have an internship program already set up because they will want a formal application, rather than a cold email. Also, look local for these cold emails. 

While internships are great, keep in mind that some fields need them more than others. For some, education programs require them for a degree. But, in some cases and in career development plans, there is a higher emphasis on externships, co-ops, and research fellowships.

To gain insider tips on internships, follow along on our blog and podcast. The podcast has exclusive information on how to get Gen Z hired. If you want a weekly newsletter from us, giving you all the important updates, sign up on the popup on the Scholars site!

About Scholars

Scholars helps companies build engaging candidate experiences at scale. Create personalized journeys for all of your candidates from application through onboarding.

About Scholars

Internships and early-career jobs are unlike any others. They are often accepted months, if not years, in advance of the start date leaving plenty of time for candidates to change their minds and decide to work elsewhere, costing your team time and money.

There are two ways that have been proven to decrease renege rates for any company: keeping candidates engaged by sharing personalized information and helping them make connections with their future teammates. Companies use Scholars to accomplish both of these at scale.