Undergrads - Internships & Co-Ops

Many college students are still recovering from their fall semester at home. Hanging out with high school/college friends, staying out late and getting up even later. Summer is the last thing on their mind. I know, I have one at home now. Hate to say it but there’s work to be done. That’s because summer internship job openings are already online. Now is the time to start to get a handle on what experience you will need to get that first full time job.

Most internships are available to rising juniors or seniors because they have had a few classes in their majors and are more valuable to the company looking for help. Here are a few tips to help you search for the perfect summer internship.

1.    Before you begin the internship search, start looking at full time jobs and their descriptions so you understand what your ultimate first job could be. After you have read the description, read the requirements for the job. Write them down. These are the things you need to learn in class or experience in your internship.

2.    Now, go to your college department website or Indeed.com website and start searching. Know your parameters first.

a.    Are you in a career path where internships are unpaid? If so and the funding is limited for a summer apartment rental in, say, New York, start locally or near a relative.

b.    If paid, what about other costs like housing and maybe even food?

3.    Search with different keywords. Don’t just use environmental science intern. Check biology, geology, earth science.

4.    In addition, some majors have summer research opportunities at various colleges/universities around the country. Many are paid and pay for your travel there and back, housing (dorm) and board.

5.    Start a spreadsheet with all the openings and details for each application and the deadline date. I’m already seeing some with a January 27th deadline for priority consideration.

6.    If letters of recommendation are needed, send out emails to the recommenders ASAP. Transcripts will be needed too if there is a minimum GPA required.

7.    Apply to as many as possible and get most of the work done BEFORE you return to college. You know why…

8.    Make sure you use contact information, email, that you check daily. Many offers have a limited time to accept.

9.    Keep your parents in the loop. There will be logistics and funding that may be needed and their input into your decision could be invaluable.

Planning ahead and getting a summer internship will help you in so many ways. You will understand the “real world” work environment, network, show dedication if it’s your career path and maybe get a job offer.

Wait and you might be stuck with the what’s available around home and miss a few weeks of pay since you will be job hunting…