Summer Internships: When Should I Start Searching?

February 5th, 2016

by Stephanie Thwaites

Summer Internships are crucial to gaining necessary experience within your field of study. The benefits are endless – from establishing professional connections to learning how to use important technology platforms related to your discipline. Landing an internship with a well-respected company can give your resume and cover letter the boost needed to set you apart from other applicants competing for your dream job.

So how do you get started? Firstly, meet with your school’s career services department. Find out which internships you’re eligible for and develop a solid resume. Next, attend an internship workshop to learn about the internship application process, tips on locating internships and how to showcase yourself as a rising star.

When should this all take place? The summer internship application season actually begins in the fall of the year prior. This is the time when most universities host career fairs and networking events. Attend as many of these as you’re able. Research the companies attending. Dress professionally. Meet people. Build your network and keep in contact. Request a connection on LinkedIn and send a friendly e-mail to thank them for their time – these people may end up being your boss down the line.

Given the crowded market for summer internships — especially over the last two summers — it’s probably a good idea to start looking for opportunities before winter break. For most people, the heaviest work should be completed prior to spring break. Most companies hire their summer interns between April and March.

Keep in mind not to limit yourself to events hosted by your school. Participate in community events as well. The size of your network is not finite. Attending an AMA of West Michigan event is an awesome way to build your contacts and get involved with the Marketing community. You’ll learn about different disciplines within the Marketing field and gain a real-world perspective on the industry. Making connections with professionals in your field can open the door to opportunities you may have never had previously, thus making your internship search a little easier.

If you haven’t found the right internship by late April or even May, don’t give up. Because needs can change quickly at any organization (especially a small one), plenty of employers won’t start up an intern search until the summer is practically in gear.

I would also encourage any students to get involved in their collegiate American Marketing Association and to then reach out to your local professional chapter. It is very likely that there are some well connected professionals that would be eager to help students find internships or offer advice when looking.

Good luck and happy hunting!