As a student or recent graduate, landing an internship is one of the best ways to build your portfolio and start laying the foundation for your career. Whether you‘re into business development, human resources, or something highly technical, an internship provides an opportunity to get valuable experience, network, and work on projects that make a difference.
However, not all internships are the same. From paid internships and unpaid internships to co-ops and summer internships, there are dozens of options for students. Here, we’ll focus on spring internships, starting with when you should apply and where you can find top-quality opportunities. Plus, we’ll go over the steps you need to take to apply for a spring internship and offer advice on how to submit a strong application.
When and Where To Look for Spring Internships
In general, you should start looking for and applying for spring internships in late summer and early fall the year before. Most companies close applications for spring positions in the fall semester — particularly in October and November — so make sure to start your search early.
However, it’s important to start the process as early as possible — sometimes well before the summer semester. This gives you time to get recommendation letters and develop any skills you may need to secure the internship position. It’s not unusual for students to look for internships a year or two before they even plan on applying. By reviewing the qualifications and requirements early, you can set yourself up for success.
There are many different tools you can use to find relevant internships. First, start by visiting the website of companies and nonprofit organizations you are interested in interning for. Most large corporations have a student-oriented internship landing page where you can find out more about the internship program and apply to open internship opportunities. In addition, these sites usually display the application deadlines and other relevant information you’ll need when applying.
Internship sites like Scholars can help you connect with hiring managers and recruiters at some of your favorite companies. Just sign up and create a profile listing your skills and expertise to get started.
You can also look for internship opportunities at companies in your area — from Nashville and Washington, DC to New York — by visiting career websites such as Indeed and LinkedIn. Many colleges and universities also host campus recruitment fairs and events where you can meet with hiring managers and learn more about spring internships.
Steps for Applying for Spring Internships
If you want to land the perfect spring internship, you’ll need to put time and effort into your application. The application process is more than simply sending out your resume to dozens of recruiters. The more time you take to plan and finesse your application, the better your chances of landing the gig. Here, we’ll show you a quick step-by-step guide on how to apply for spring internships.
1. Do Your Research
While you may know what field you want to work in, there are dozens of different disciplines where you can hone your skills. Start by figuring out what kind of internship you want. Are you looking for a human resources internship or something where you can use coding language to create new programs? Ask yourself exactly what skills you want to hone and which types of internships can help you achieve that goal. At this stage, it can be helpful to write down a list of skills you’d like to utilize as well as companies you’re interested in working for.
Once you figure out what field you’d like to intern in, it’s important to do research on what’s out there. Read internship job descriptions and internship postings and start building an idea of what will be expected from you in these internship roles. You can also sign up for relevant job alerts to see what hiring managers are looking for in candidates. As you find spring internship opportunities that seem like a good fit, write them down so you can apply later.
2. Prepare Your Resume and Cover Letter
You can’t just submit a generic resume and cover letter to every hiring manager. Well, technically you could, but the results won’t be stellar. If you really want to land that spring internship, you’ll need to craft a resume and cover letter that’s specific to each opportunity.
Here’s a quick rundown on what to include on your resume and cover letter:
- Specific skills relevant to the position
- Prior work experience or passion projects that demonstrate area-specific knowledge
- Coursework and projects that demonstrate your ability to work on real-life problems
- Quantitative measurements of your past success on similar projects
- Familiarity with any technical tools or programs
Review the job description and pay close attention to the desired skills and qualifications. Make sure to include this information on your resume and cover letter to demonstrate your qualifications for the role. Use quantitative measurement whenever possible. That means instead of writing something like “increased sales and managed accounts” try something more specific like “increased sales by 26% year over year and managed accounts worth $3.4 million.”
So what do you do if you don’t have the required skills and qualifications? Well, if you’ve started your search early, you may have time to develop and build these skills before applying. That’s why it’s important to start your internship search early and why checking out job listings a year or two before you start applying may be beneficial. It gives you some time to start developing skill and passion projects you can use when application time rolls around.
3. Start Applying
Now that you’ve done all the legwork, all that’s left is for you to fill out the applications and hit submit. Proofread all of your application materials and double-check to ensure you’ve included all the relevant information. Re-read the application instructions and make sure you haven’t left anything out.
How To Submit a Strong Application
Whether you’re looking for a full-time, part-time, or spring internship program, there are things you can do to improve your chances of success. The first step in building a strong internship application is to make a personal connection with the hiring manager. The best way to do that is to attend a career fair or internship fair on campus. To make a great first impression, prepare questions and bring along your resume to show the recruiter why you’d be a good fit for the company.
Sometimes, making a connection in person isn’t possible. That doesn’t mean you have to be at a disadvantage. In fact, students can use LinkedIn and social media to connect with hiring managers and start building a network. Reach out to hiring managers at companies you’d like to be a spring intern for. Customize your outreach message specifically to each hiring manager. Take the time to explain why you’re reaching out and ask specific questions or tell the recruiter how they can help you in your application process.
The idea here is to show your interest, passion, and knowledge in the related field. You want the hiring manager to walk away from the interaction feeling like you’d be a good fit for their team. Remember that your application will vary depending on your expertise level. Expectations for a graduate student will be different than a high school student for a spring internship. Make sure you keep this in mind when reaching out to hiring managers to ensure a successful interaction.
Here are some more tips for crafting a strong application:
- Use keywords related to the role on your resume. For example, if you’re applying to a public policy role, emphasize your leadership abilities, decision-making skills, and knowledge of relevant policy issues.
- Prominently list relevant skills. Hiring managers don’t always have the time to read everything on your application. By prominently listing important skills and qualifications, you ensure that hiring managers see the benefits of hiring you at a glance, without having to read every single word. Some ways to do this include using bullet points or using bold font to highlight certain skills in your cover letter.
- Use action verbs. Using a passive voice is a surefire way to make your resume dull and boring. Instead, use action verbs to show what you’ve done in the past and to demonstrate your qualifications. Action verbs offer a powerful tone that lends credibility and authority to your application.
Find an Internship You’ll Love
If you’re looking into internship programs, Scholars can help. Whether you want to be a tax intern, operations intern, business development intern, or something entirely different, you’ll find tips to reach your goal on our blog. Plus, our podcast features exclusive interviews with hiring managers at some of the biggest firms including Oracle and IBM. By tuning in, you can get first-hand knowledge about what companies are looking for in internship applicants to improve your chances of success.