As summer approaches, some students have a daunting task at hand: find an internship.

A majority of employers expect applicants to have relevant work experience, and 56 percent prefer that it comes from an internship, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

For students who already have a summer internship lined up, this statistic is music to their ears. For those who don’t, it’s a reality check. But there’s still time to get an internship, so don’t panic yet.

Here is a guide to finding and landing an internship with helpful tips from Lindsay Schiller, an assistant director for career development and college relations at Virginia Tech.

 1. Figure out what you want. Map out your goals, research the companies you’re looking to apply to, and decide how you’d like to be compensated.

  • Goal: Do you have a specific career field in mind? Do you want a job with the same company after the internship? Are you open to exploring internships outside of your major?

  • Company: What are the company values? Look at the mission statement, research company culture, and decide whether you’d be a good fit.

  • Compensation: Ideally, Schiller said, all internships should be paid positions, given that interns work in a professional environment. But unpaid internships can provide valuable experience as well.

2. Gather your materials. Virginia Tech’s Career and Professional Development offers in-depth resume and cover letter services. Take advantage of it.

  • Resume: Career and Professional Development has resources to help format your resume and a list of things to include. They also offer advising for students who want to meet one-on-one and receive recommendations specifically tailored to their resume.

  • Cover letter: This is the perfect place to add a personality to your name. Though not all companies will require one, Schiller advises applicants to always submit one with their resume if it’s available in the application.

3. Browse hiring sites and find job openings. LinkedIn, Handshake, and Hokie Mentorship Connect are good places to start. If you don’t find any internships of interest to you, schedule a meeting with a career advisor who will help you look.

  • Who should you schedule an appointment with? Choose an appointment with the liaison for your college.

4. Prep your social media. Seventy percent of employers look at an applicant’s social media accounts during the hiring process, according to a CareerBuilder survey, so evaluate your online presence carefully.

  • LinkedIn: According to Manifest, a business news and how-to site, 67 percent of employers look at LinkedIn profiles before extending an offer, so it’s important to set up your profile. Establish a professional brand for yourself and make network connections. According to LinkedIn, 85 percent of jobs go to applicants who networked.

  • Personal accounts: Delete questionable photos, consider switching your account to private, and put your best foot forward. Employers don’t need to know what you did at Center Street, and they definitely don’t need to see it.

5. Apply. You’ve already collected your materials and a career advisor has looked over them, so this is the easiest part.

  • Follow instructions. One of the easiest ways for employers to cross potential candidates off the list is to see that they filled out the application incorrectly or failed to attach the required materials. If the application says to include a cover letter, then take the extra few minutes to write your cover letter. 

  • Send a follow-up email. Leave a lasting impression by making a personal connection with the hiring manager.

6.  Think beyond the internship. There are other ways for students to build skills that employers want. Opportunities may include volunteering, job shadowing, research, and more.

Regardless of where you are in your professional life, Career and Professional Development at Virginia Tech has resources available to students for the duration of their college education plus two years after they graduate. Students can make as many appointments as necessary with career advisors there.

“Don’t be afraid to get help,” Schiller said. “You don’t have to do it alone.”

By Savannah Webb '23, University Relations intern

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