I will say this unequivocally: All college students need to have an internship. I promise many other job candidates will. Employers expect it. More than 90 percent of employers say that students should have at least one internship on their resume, one recent study found. And the summer internship search starts now -- in January.
Here are 3 things every college student needs to do to kick off the internship search:
1. Create a resume and cover letter template.
Deadlines are going to come and go quickly. The same "generic" materials shouldn't be sent out for every opportunity. But you can use a template and customize it for the internship. The trick is to read the job description and then revise your resume and letter so that you connect the dots for the employer. The letter and resume need to explain why you're the perfect candidate.
2. Stay organized.
When I was applying for internships, I made sure to keep one sheet of paper with all of the companies I was applying for (10 per semester), the contact information, company website, application dates, required materials, and the date I submitted my applications. This document was crucial during the internship search, as sometimes you start applying for things late at night and forget you applied in the first place. Keep this document handy, just in case an employer calls.
3. Visit the college career center.
So many students have not visited their college career center. Today, many high schools have someone on staff acting as a career counselor. Your child needs to go into the career center, a few times over the course of a semester, and create an internship strategy with the staff. The career centers work so hard to develop relationships with potential employers and internship coordinators for students. It's a missed opportunity if the student doesn't walk in the door. They should also be going to the career center to get a second opinion or help with their resumes and cover letters and to do a practice "mock" interview. Career centers are FREE for students, it's one of the most useful resources on a campus.
Look, the message here is to get involved in your highschool or college kid's internship search. Yes, your child might think you are "overbearing" but at the end of the day, this is their career. You already know how bad the economy is and what your young ones are getting themselves into once they graduate. Internships are a solution for helping your kids find and land jobs after college. Do everything in your power to get them interning and making the most of their experiences.