Career Planning

What’s the best way for my student to find a summer internship or job?

By Evanne Montoya

There are plenty of good reasons for your student to seek a summer job or internship. From making a little extra cash, to adding to her resume, working this summer can be of great benefit to your student. However, to reap the benefits, she’ll need to sow the seeds now.

Encourage your student to:

Start early

Encourage your student to start looking at her options right away if she wants a summer job or internship. The most competitive internships often have application deadlines months before they start in May or June. Your student should start looking at her options now to make sure she has plenty of time to apply and doesn’t miss the opportunities she wants most.

As your student searches through her options, ask her about what she wants to get out of the experience. If she really needs money right now, she may want to look for jobs that pay well, even if they don’t fit her career path. If money’s okay right now, an unpaid internship or internship for credit with a reputable business in her field may be worthwhile, even if it doesn’t have the monetary benefits. A paid internship or a job within her chosen career path would combine the best of both worlds, and allow her to see some of her future career options first-hand.

Meet with career services

Career services at your student’s university can be an incredible resource. Encourage your student to set up an appointment. Make sure she comes prepared in order to make the most of her time with the advisor. She should bring a current resume for the advisor to review, a sample cover letter, as well as the application requirements for any openings she has found already. While there she should ask:

• Is there anything I can do to improve my resume?
• Where else can I look to try to find more openings?
• What can I say in my cover letter to increase my chances of getting an interview?

Remind your student that she can return to career services as needed. If she gets an interview, many career services centers offer mock interviews to help your student prepare. If she strikes out and needs more ideas, the advisors may be able to help.

Talk to professors or academic advisors

If your student has developed a rapport with any of her professors, encourage her to talk to them and ask their advice. Professors often have contacts with other organizations that have hired students from the university, or personal contacts from their industry. Remind her student to be respectful, but not shy. Her professors will likely be eager to help, especially if she demonstrates that she’s putting in personal effort.

Be courageous enough to ask

What if your student’s dream company doesn’t have any openings? It’s not time to give up yet. If your student goes through the effort to find someone in human resources and propose an internship, it may pay off. Encourage your student to be prepared with a plan that is mutually beneficial: she gets a chance to learn at her dream company, they get inexpensive (or free) help for the summer.

Along with searching for openings, encourage your student to ask everyone she can think of for contacts in the business. Does she know upperclassmen? She should ask them where they have interned, and if they would be willing to put her into contact with someone from that company. Does the university have opportunities for students to network with alumni? She should contact alumni in her field, ask their advice, and see if they know of any opportunities or openings. Does her university hold job or internship fairs? She should attend, and ask recruiters all about their company. Personal contacts can be a fantastic resource in looking for jobs.

Once your student has an idea of the openings that interest her, suggest that she make a schedule including when each application is due, what she will have to include with the application, and when she will have time to complete the necessary work. Encourage her to check her school workload and plan ahead. While it may seem like a lot of work for a three-month opportunity, remind your student that her effort now will continue to pay off. Summer jobs and internships can often pay threefold: in salary, real world work experience, and professional connections and networking.

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