No matter which field you’re majoring in or which school you’re attending, there’s a very good chance that you’ll want to or be required to complete an internship before you graduate. More often than not, your internship will be a short-term (three-to-six month) situation in which you gain direct skills and knowledge about a particular employment field.
Internships are a great way to gain new competencies and to make industry connections, but that doesn’t mean that they are easy to secure—especially if you wait until the last minute. Many students choose to complete an internship over the summer, while they’re on break, but they begin planning earlier in the year to ensure that they get the most out of their experience. If you didn’t have the time or have simply found yourself in the unfortunate position of needing an internship at the last minute, consider exploring the following options:
1. Faculty members
Although most internships with college professors are arranged several months in advance, your instructors can still be a great resource.
If you’re interested in completing an internship in an academic environment, tell your professors—they may know of previously filled positions that are available again due to unforeseen circumstances, or they may be able to refer you to colleagues at other schools. Many faculty members conduct research during the summer months, and they may be interested in taking you on.
2. Personal connections
In many instances, international students have social circles that are smaller than those of native students. Nevertheless, if you have made friends or professional connections while in the United States, they may be able to help you find an appropriate internship.
As long as you’re comfortable asking, check with your classmates, friends, and other individuals who may have industry connections to see if they can refer you to someone in need of an intern. You may be surprised by the responses you receive.
3. Electronic job boards and listservs
Online job boards and listservs (both local and national) are generally updated on a daily basis, and they may be one of the best places to locate a last-minute internship opportunity. There are many different listservs and websites that focus on particular fields, so it’s worth your time to look for ones that are specific to your area(s) of interest. With that being said, these resources are usually widely followed, and they may put you in competition with a large number of people.
4. Companies that interest you
As previously noted, many schools are willing to consider “non-traditional” internships so long as they believe that the student will gain something from the experience. For this reason, it can sometimes be fruitful to consider companies in your area that can provide you with the hands-on experience you seek. Contact several businesses, and ask whether they would consider hosting a summer intern. There’s no guarantee that this will pay off, but not all internships arise from formal job postings that originate from companies.
5. Your school’s employment office
If you have attempted the strategies described above, and you still have not had any luck finding a summer internship position, there is a chance that your college can help. Many schools have dedicated staff members or an entire department that assists students in securing internships. If your summer break is approaching and you don’t have any options, check in with these staff members for assistance. Again, there’s no guarantee that this’ll be the solution to your problem, but one or more of these people may know of a last-minute opportunity that would be perfect for you.
David White is a contributing writer for UniversityTutor.com, the world’s largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.