Internships 101: What You Need to Know

Internships 101: What You Need to Know

If you’re interested in getting a head start on your job search and your visa allows you to work in the United States following graduation, interning is a great way to gain industry skills. Having an internship can also help you decide if the career you’re interested in is the right fit. With research and preparation, you can land your dream internship while you’re still in school.

Research Your Industry

Some students think they know exactly what they want to do for a living, but when they get a job in that field, find that it isn’t what they were expecting. Internships are a great way to determine exactly what the job entails, while helping you decide whether to continue pursuing that field as a post-graduate career. Start by researching your field. Get to know the big players in your industry, as well as local companies that offer internships.  

Prepare Your Resume and Cover Letter

Once you have a good handle on where you want to work, start preparing your applications. Make sure your resume includes anything that may be relevant to an employer, as well as any skills you’ve gained from past jobs or positions to make yourself an outstanding candidate. For example, waiting tables at a restaurant may not seem like a big deal, but it helps you gain experience in customer service and time-management. When writing your resume, be sure to make the most of each experience. Include relevant classes you are taking in school and be ready to speak to projects and assignments that directly correlate with the internship you hope to land.

Some companies will require a cover letter, where you can explain exactly why you are interested in an internship and what makes you a strong candidate. While resumes should be no more than a page, your cover letter allows you to give the employer a taste of your personality, so be sure to stay professional, but make it feel like you.

Ace Your Interview

Once you land your interview, explore the company’s website, read their blog, follow their social media pages and do a Google search to see what people are saying about the organization. Make note of large projects or campaigns they recently completed and come with questions that are specific to the company and your career goals. It’s also good to prepare answers to commonly asked interview questions. Practice with a friend or roommate, or on the phone with a parent or mentor, who can help you work through your nerves and brainstorm answers that speak to your strengths. Dress professionally and bring copies of your resume, as well as a pen and notepad to take notes during the interview. Good preparation makes for a solid interview.

Making a great first impression during an interview can not only help you secure an internship, but can help you get a job after graduation. For students able to work in the United States, consider spending the summer months in a large city to give you access to amazing internships with industry-leading companies. can help you find a place in destinations like New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles, with thousands of opportunities for students. Keep these tips in mind as you begin your internship search! 

Margaret Schwartz is an experienced international traveler and Director of Marketing at CORT Furniture Rental, where she works directly with students and higher education institutions.

Show More

Download Study in the USA® Magazines