How to Land Your First Internship

I just wrapped up an internship with Capital One, and I’m reminded again of just how helpful those few weeks of work can be for gaining real-world experience.

By Lisa Kim August 19, 2020
drawing of man holding hire me sign

Internships are amazing opportunities that can help you gain experience, make money, and stand out when you apply for full-time jobs upon graduation. Internships are typically eight to twelve weeks long; interns work alongside full-time employees at a company or organization and see how their skills translate to work on the job.

I just wrapped up an internship with Capital One, and I’m reminded again of just how helpful those few weeks of work can be for gaining real-world experience.

How to Prepare

Make sure that you’ve got the basics down. Review and refine your LinkedIn profile and resume, and practice your elevator speech. Think about a couple of your biggest strengths and some examples of how you’ve successfully used those skills. Talking about ourselves professionally doesn’t come naturally for most people, so don’t be afraid to practice on your own and shake out some of those nerves.

Where to Look

Job search engines like LinkedIn and Indeed are great places to look for positions broadly, but I highly suggest spending some time with the university’s resources to find curated lists. Many majors, departments, and schools within the greater university send out emails with job listings, host career fairs, and have dedicated staff to help you find the perfect opportunity.

On Referrals

Referrals are another great way to help increase your chances of being offered an internship. If you have friends or friends of friends who have worked with companies that you are interested in, they might be able to refer you to their recruiter or get you in touch with other people within the company who can fast track your application to an interview or review. This is yet another great reason to focus on building your Wolverine network!

Oprah telling everyone in audience gets an internship

When to Start Applying

If you’re looking for opportunities in investment banking or in technology, you can definitely start looking now! Many companies that hire business and engineering majors are starting to take applications for summer 2021 opportunities. I’ve found it helpful to talk to other people in the same major or area of interest to see what the typical recruiting timeline is like. And as a general rule, remember that you usually increase your chances of success by applying earlier rather than later.

Internships Aren’t Just for the Summer

Fall and winter semester internships, both part-time and full-time, are increasingly popular ways to gain work experience. Many companies also hire college students for co-ops, which are usually full-time, paid positions that you can take as a student, and tend to be a little longer than a typical summer internship. Don’t limit yourself to the summer!

Oprah telling everyone in audience gets an internship

But What Happens If You Don’t Get an Internship?

That’s totally okay! An internship is a great way to spend your summer, but it’s not the only way to have a productive summer or to boost your resume. You can do research, volunteer your time, work on personal projects, or just take the time to relax and have fun. Try to not take the rejections personally. You’re still an amazing Wolverine, and an internship is just one of many ways that you can develop yourself professionally.

Lisa Kim
Lisa Kim
Lisa Kim is a recent graduate of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, where she majored in computer science and minored in multidisciplinary design. Lisa is a big fan of doing face masks, reading thrillers, and listening to electronic music, and you can probably find her doing one of those three things now.