Thoughts of summer sun, sand spread between your toes, and warm weather probably seem pretty far-fetched. It is January after all, right? While 2014 may have just begun, that doesn’t mean collegiettes should be idly sitting around, twiddling their thumbs, and telling everyone that they will start the summer internship search next month. In fact, there are companies already posting summer positions on their websites, and Louis Gaglini, the associate director for employer relations at Boston College, shares that some recruiters and their organizations tend to kick-start their recruiting efforts after the New Year. Deborah Jancourtz, the Assistant Director of Counseling and Programs at Boston University’s Center for Career Development, suggests beginning an active internship search by the end of January.
So what are you waiting for? Now is the time to get the summer internship ball rolling!
1. Update that Résumé
This is the first thing that collegiettes should do before setting out to find their dream internship. According to Gaglini, “Résumés should be updated to reflect each time you make a substantive change in your professional profile.” For example, a change in GPA, a new part-time job, increased student involvement, a change in major or minor, and any notable changes in extracurricular activities warrant a quick update to the résumé. And if you have yet to create a resume, no worries! Her Campus has got you covered with articles on how to make your first resume, how to make your internship sound best on your resume, and how to make your extracurriculars sound best on your resume!
The most important thing to ask yourself is what is the reason for each change? If you find that you are making hundreds of small tweaks each week, then it might be time to step away from the resume and let it stand as is. But make sure you aren’t committing any résumé faux-pas. Employers don’t want to read everything that you have ever done since middle school. Once your resume is updated, make sure you save it as a PDF and use the final version for all of your applications and interviews.
2. Create a LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn is like the Facebook of the career world. Collegiettes should use LinkedIn to express their professional identity while Facebook and other social media sites should be used on a more personal level. With that said, all collegiettes should have an accurately polished LinkedIn profile. Gaglini explains, “Your online presence is essentially your ‘brand’ as a student and a young professional. Recruiters and hiring managers are expecting you to be visible online in a positive way.” Not only will your LinkedIn profile help recruiters and their companies get a better sense of your accomplishments, but LinkedIn can also help students effectively network. If you are unfamiliar with LinkedIn, then check out our article on The Dos & Don’ts of LinkedIn Etiquette and you will become a pro in no time.
3. Edit Your Social Media Presence and Google Yourself
Potential employers may take a look at any and all of your social media presence. Anything from Facebook and Twitter to Tumblr and Pinterest are fair game these days. Take the time to make sure that there is nothing you are embarrassed or ashamed of on any of your social media pages. Jancourtz advises, “If you wouldn’t show a post or picture to a professor, then keep it private.”
Once you have edited your social media presence, try Google searching your name. Have some fun with this preparatory task! Set aside half an hour to scour the Internet for any trace of your name. Recruiters and potential employers will be doing the same thing once you apply, so it is important to beat them to any potentially unflattering images or embarrassing write-ups. Remember that photo from Spring Break last year? Yeah, you definitely don’t want your future boss laying his eyes on that… Cleanse your profile by un-tagging yourself, deleting any unfortunate content, and making sure you project a professional persona. And from now on, Gaglini reminds collegiettes to try and be increasingly mindful of the fact that it is much easier to put something online than it is to remove it.
4. Make a List of Potential Internships
Before you start attending networking events, applying, and interviewing with potential employers, it is important to sit down and think about what it is that you want to do this summer and where you want to be. Do you want to be interning at a large corporation or spending the summer at a smaller company? Where would you prefer to be geographically? Jancourtz emphasizes, “You really need to think about what areas of interest you are looking to gain experience in, if you can afford an unpaid internship, or if you can afford to move to another location to do an internship, whether paid or unpaid.”
Creating an Excel spreadsheet or Google document is a great way to keep your lists organized. These programs can be used to create a potential list of summer internships, track any applications you have submitted, and stay organized for upcoming application due dates. Keeping all of your internship data in one place will only make your life easier in the long run.
5. Plan Your Networking Calendar
Networking is one of the most important parts of finding and securing a dream internship. Gaglini defines networking as “connecting.” He explains, “The more people with whom you connect, the more likely you are to meet someone who can have a positive effect on your internship search and your future.” While some organizations will directly connect with you, others will prefer to go through your school’s Career Center, so be sure to take advantage of any programming and networking events happening on your campus.
In the same vein, Gaglini recommends that students have a clear sense of their calendars. He explains, “Establish your calendar and know where you need to be and when in order to connect with potential internships.” Consider buying a calendar and using it solely for career-related events and activities like internship fairs and networking events. That way you will always know where you need to be. It is much better to be over-organized during the internship search, than to feel overwhelmed and scatter-brained.
And while you’re organizing your potential future, why not schedule some informational interviews with people who work in the industry that you are interested in? Informational interviews are a fantastic way to learn about specific jobs, to show your interest in a particular company or position, and to NETWORK!
6. Go Shopping!
This is hands-down the most fun and exciting part of preparing for the summer internship process. What collegiette would turn down a shopping trip, especially when shopping for cute, sophisticated, and mature career clothes? The type of professional clothing you need will most likely depend upon the industry you plan on entering, but some great places to check out for inspiration are Ann Taylor LOFT, Banana Republic, and JCrew. You might even be able to get Mom or Dad to chip in some money by convincing them that they are investing in your future! In addition to updating your professional interview wardrobe, Gaglini also suggests investing in a high-quality folder in which to carry your resume.
Where exactly can you find a high-quality, résumé-carrying folder? Gaglini recommends checking out your school’s bookstore. He explains, “Most campus bookstores will carry such folders and many are reasonably priced. Some are soft leather while others are faux leather, vinyl, or a high quality laminate.” Still not sure if you have an appropriately professional folder? Look for something like this laminated folder and you are sure to wow recruiters and interviewers alike.
Taking the time to complete these six tasks will make your summer internship search less stressful and much more enjoyable. And don’t feel like you have to keep the internship application process to yourself. Gaglini encourages collegiettes to share their activity with others who genuinely care about their future. Take the time to update your career advisors, family, close friends, current and former employers, as well as any professors you are close with about your individual experience. You never know what words of wisdom they will be able to send your way to help you land that dream summer internship.
Once you have completed all six of these tasks, you will be well on your way to securing a killer summer internship. However, there is still more that you can be doing. Most importantly, keep networking. As Jancourtz emphasizes, “Social media and job posting sites are great search tools, but face-to-face networking is the human connection that remains central to landing an internship.” In addition to networking, there are steps that can be taken later in the process—check out our articles on how to get a summer internship at the last-minute and ten things to do right now to score your dream summer internship. As long as you stay organized, over-prepared, and motivated, your dream summer internship will fall into place.