How to Apply for an Internship [2024]

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Internships are excellent for networking as you begin your professional journey. But do you know how to apply for an internship? Well, need not to worry. This is the article on internship guide which will guide you to apply for an internship.

Internships offer valuable experiences for those new to the professional world or those considering a career switch. They provide an opportunity to gain practical work experience, enhance your resume, and understand the realities of a specific role or industry firsthand.

This article delves into the world of internships, covering how to secure one and what to anticipate during your initial internship.


How to Apply for an Internship?

Internships provide students with crucial professional experience. Discover how to apply for internships and create a compelling resume and cover letter.

College internships can open doors to job opportunities.

A well-crafted cover letter can distinguish you from other candidates.

  • Hiring managers seek resumes that highlight relevant details.
  • Round out your application with a portfolio, references, and updated social media profiles.
  • Internships are key to many students’ future success.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers in 2019, over 70% of employers extended full-time job offers to their interns. Another study revealed that applicants with internship backgrounds had a 12.6% higher chance of securing job interviews.

How do you set yourself apart from hundreds of other applicants competing for the same internship? One effective approach is to have a strong resume, cover letter, portfolio, and reliable references. Keep reading to discover more about applying for internships.

What is an Internship?

An internship is a temporary position typically designed for college students and recent graduates. Interns often work in exchange for school credit or a basic salary, and internships can range from several months to a year in duration. 

Internships are beneficial for students who haven’t decided on a career path yet, as they provide an opportunity to gain temporary work experience in a specific role or industry.

Related: Why do internships only accepts students?

Where Do You Submit Your Internship Application?

When applying for internships, some companies prefer applicants to use their online portals, while others prefer documents sent via email. Always follow the submission guidelines provided in the job listing.

If you’re sending documents to a generic email address, try calling the organization or checking LinkedIn to find out the appropriate recipient’s name. If no specific email format is requested, include the internship title in the subject line of your email.

Lastly, ensure your email address looks professional, ideally using your first and last name.

How to Tailor Your Resume and Cover Letter to an Internship?

Keeping your resume up to date is crucial because a well-crafted resume and cover letter can significantly influence a hiring manager’s decision. Don’t stress if you lack experience in the field—hiring managers recognize that you’re seeking an internship to gain that experience.

The following tips will guide you on how to customize your resume and cover letter for your desired internship position.

How to apply for an internship?

Here are the steps to apply for an internships:

  1. Be Descriptive
  2. Keep It Concise and Relevant
  3. Ensure the Format Is Easy to Skim
  4. Make Each Cover Letter Unique
  5. Demonstrate Passion and Enthusiasm

1. Be Descriptive

Your resume is the perfect place to highlight your major professional and academic achievements, so feel free to provide detailed information. Alongside your job title and dates of employment, make sure to include specific duties that are relevant to the internship you’re applying for.

When listing your skills and responsibilities, emphasize the impact you made. For instance, rather than simply stating that you managed a social media account, explain how many views the site gained under your management or how much you were able to increase the site’s following.

2. Keep It Concise and Relevant

Before applying for internships, research what each company is looking for in an intern and the specific tasks or skills mentioned in the job description. Then, relate those areas to your own experiences and achievements. 

For example, if you worked as a cashier, highlight how this role taught you valuable customer service skills that could be applicable to a community outreach or sales internship.

Research indicates that employers spend just a little over six seconds reviewing a resume before deciding. Therefore, it’s important to keep your resume concise and focused, avoiding any irrelevant information.

3. Ensure the Format Is Easy to Skim

When creating your resume, make sure it’s easy to read and navigate. Bullet points are effective for highlighting key information. Ensure readability by clearly dividing sections, using a simple font, and optimizing the top quarter of your resume. 

This way, your resume will be visually appealing and easy for employers to quickly grasp the most important details.

4. Make Each Cover Letter Unique

A well-crafted cover letter can be the deciding factor in landing an internship. It’s your chance to reveal your personality and convey your enthusiasm, along with showcasing your skills, accomplishments, and writing abilities.

Personalize and professionalize your cover letter by explaining how your background and character align perfectly with the internship and organization.

If you’re applying to several internships, customize your cover letter for each position, emphasizing the skills highlighted in each internship listing. Keep in mind, this is your chance to persuade the hiring manager that you’ll bring value to their company.

5. Demonstrate Passion and Enthusiasm

Employers seek interns who are enthusiastic and motivated to join their team. They want someone genuinely excited about the company and the role.

Highlight your enthusiasm by explaining why you’re passionate about the company or the specific role.

You can also share a brief story about your achievements or activities that illustrate your dedication to this field.

What Other Internship Application Materials Should You Prepare?

Most employers ask internship applicants to provide 2-3 references. Start gathering these names well ahead of time. 

Think about individuals who can speak to your personality, skills, and work ethic. Strong references from teachers, professors, or previous employers are invaluable when applying for internships.

Some internships may also request a portfolio. This compilation of your top, most relevant work offers companies tangible evidence of your abilities. Fields such as graphic design, web development, writing, and marketing often require a portfolio.

Even if a portfolio isn’t mandatory for a particular internship, submitting this additional showcase of your talents can set you apart. Highlight projects that relate to the internship and choose samples that represent your best work.

3 Final Tips Before Applying for an Internship

You’ve finalized your cover letter, resume, and gathered references. Before submitting your internship application, be sure to do the following:

  1. Ensure Your Social Media Accounts Are Private
  2. Know Application Deadlines
  3. Double-Check Your Applications

1. Ensure Your Social Media Accounts Are Private

Based on a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers check candidates’ social networking sites. Furthermore, more than half of those surveyed decided against hiring someone based on what they found on these sites.

Ensure your accounts are set to private and free of any content you wouldn’t want your employer to see.

2. Know Application Deadlines

Some deadlines for summer internships can be as early as November. Many organizations require applications to be submitted 6-8 months in advance. 

If you’re applying to multiple internships, it’s a good idea to create a spreadsheet with deadlines and set reminders in your calendar. This way, you won’t miss out on the opportunity to intern with your dream organization.

3. Double-Check Your Applications

When you’re sending out numerous applications, it’s easy to go into autopilot mode. However, this is when mistakes can happen. Since this is your opportunity to make a positive first impression, it’s crucial to ensure all your application materials are flawless.

Take the time to double-check the names of organizations and hiring managers to ensure you’re spelling, capitalizing, and punctuating them correctly.

Many college career centers offer assistance to students by reviewing their resumes and cover letters. If this service is available, take advantage of it. Alternatively, you can ask a professor, family member, or friend to help review your internship applications.

How to Get An Internship?

Looking for an internship is much like searching for a typical job. To secure an internship position, it’s important to prepare by following these steps:

  1. Write an internship resume and cover letter
  2. Ask for a letter of recommendation
  3. Make a list of companies
  4. Volunteer to intern
  5. Prepare for your interview

1. Write an internship resume and cover letter

Most companies require a resume and a cover letter when applying for an internship. Since you may have little to no professional experience, your cover letter becomes even more critical for the employer.

On your internship resume, start with an objective statement at the top outlining your professional career goals. 

Include any relevant experience, such as completed coursework, volunteer work, and leadership roles in clubs or organizations. Look at the job description for keywords that match your background and incorporate them into your resume.

Your internship cover letter provides an opportunity to explain why you’re applying for the position and what you can contribute to the company. 

Highlight relevant experiences, examples of your work ethic, and key skills. If you need assistance with writing or refining your documents, most colleges and universities offer free resume and cover letter review services.

2. Ask for a letter of recommendation

A letter of recommendation is a statement written by a relevant professional endorsing why an applicant would excel in a position. Many students request a letter of recommendation from a professor. 

It’s wise to select someone who knows you and your work thoroughly. Be sure to provide this individual with the internship job description, your resume, and ample notice.

3. Make a list of companies

Create a list of potential companies that align with your interests based on their products, core values, industry expertise, or other inspiring factors. Visit their websites to confirm if they offer internships during your desired timeframe.

By securing an internship at a company you might consider for future employment, you’ll have the opportunity to build connections and determine if the field is a good fit for you. Additionally, some companies may extend full-time job offers to interns based on their performance.

4. Volunteer to intern

If you’re interested in working for a company that doesn’t have an internship program, don’t get discouraged. Reach out to the company’s human resources department to inquire if they would be interested in hiring an intern in the near future. 

They might also offer other opportunities besides internships, such as part-time positions, workshops, or career development programs within the industry.

5. Prepare for your interview

If you’re invited for an interview with a company, take the time to prepare. Review the job description, practice answers to common interview questions, and research the company thoroughly. 

Understanding the company’s core values, mission statement, and history will enable you to articulate your interest effectively during the interview.

Duration of Internships

The duration of an internship can vary depending on the industry, employer, and role. Many people seek internships that allow them to balance their school workload with their internship hours. 

Here are typical durations for various types of internships:

  1. College Internship: These internships are typically located on your university campus and are often reserved for science, health care, and research students, as well as those pursuing a master’s degree or PhD.
  2. Externship: Externships are shorter internships where participants work for a company for a few days to a few weeks.
  3. One-Year Internship: This type of internship spans the duration of two semesters. The first semester is usually unpaid, during which the employer assesses your potential. If invited back for a second semester, it often comes with compensation.
  4. Semester Internship: Semester-long internships typically involve working 10 to 20 hours per week for a two- to three-month period in exchange for school credit or hourly pay.
  5. Summer Internship: Many students prefer summer internships as they allow a focused period of work without class commitments. The length of summer internships varies but typically lasts between two and three months.

Benefits of an Internship

The experience and resources gained from an internship can lay a solid foundation for a rewarding career. Internships offer several specific benefits, including:

  1. Developing and refining your skills: Internships help you understand your strengths and weaknesses within an industry context, allowing you to set personal career goals for improvement.
  2. Potential for a higher starting salary: Relevant internship experience can boost your earning potential, even at entry-level positions. Companies may value your existing knowledge, potentially saving on training costs, which could be discussed during salary negotiations.
  3. Networking opportunities: Some internships lead directly to job offers within the company. Even if not, interns can still build a professional network within the business, opening doors to other job prospects and opportunities.
  4. Smoother transition into the professional world: Moving from college to a professional career can be challenging without prior experience. An internship provides insight into business operations and how you can contribute to an organization.
  5. Exploring career paths: Internships allow you to test different industries or roles temporarily. If the internship isn’t a perfect fit, the experience gained can inform future job searches or decisions about your major and career path.
  6. Earning income and/or school credit: Many internships offer compensation for your work, and some also provide school credit. If unsure, ask the employer about compensation arrangements during the hiring process.

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