There are many reasons students put off seeking out internships until the spring semester or closer to graduation. I’m only a freshman, it’s only September I have time, are just some of the statements the echo through the halls of the College of Business. However, the truth is that it is never too early to apply for an internship.
The search starts early: The most prestigious and competitive internship programs begin their search process for summer interns in the fall. Companies such as Southwest Airlines and Goldman Sachs open their applications around October and close them by the end December. Though it may seem a little early to commit to an internship that is half a year away, these companies want students that are dedicated.
Prepare: Sure, it’s still only September right now but that gives students a whole month to prepare the perfect resume and cover letter. The Johnson Career Center is an excellent resource students can use for help polishing up their resume and practicing the interview process.
Start small: Is it more difficult to get an internship the lower your class ranking? At larger corporations, possibly. However, there are plenty of opportunities available specifically designed for younger applicants and there are many smaller companies looking to take on younger interns in order to help them work their way up. It may not be your ideal job, and it may not even be in the industry you’re interested in having a career in, but those dream corporations are looking for experience. Your GPA and extracurricular involvement may be outstanding, but it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have any of the work experience that they are looking for.
Companies are looking for experience: Getting a fall or spring internship instead of working just another minimum wage job during the school year could give your resume the extra padding you need in order to appeal to the Fortune 500 company you’ve got your sights on.
Network: This is where networking also plays a big role. Have a family member or friend that works for a business you might be interested in? Use them! Have them put in a good word for you in the hiring process and it may be the difference that sets you apart from a similar candidate.
So yes, it is only September and maybe you're only a first or second-year student. It doesn’t matter. There are opportunities everywhere for students to begin getting the experience they need for their dream internship and the companies that want the best interns are looking for them early on. Will you be one of them?