Shortly after I graduated from college, I had the great privilege of speaking with a CBS executive. In short, she told me I didn’t have enough experience, despite the fact I had a shiny new degree. She also didn’t blame me entirely for it, chastising those who didn’t inform me before that point.
The news, as you can imagine, was devastating.
I did hold an internship during my senior year of college, but between classes, a part-time job at the school (work-study), studying abroad my sophomore year, club activities, and keeping some semblance of a social life, I assumed that my degree would be enough.
Spoiler alert: not always.
Which is why it is important to get started on your work history as soon as possible, so by the time you are out of college (or even high school), you have something to put on your resume. As long as you have a will and an internet connection, you can begin now.
But How Do I Get An Internship?
First, figure out what it is you want to do. Do you have a college major already set? Do you have a passion for a certain field? Even if you have multiple answers for these questions, that’s okay. Choose your top three.
Next, find websites or businesses you like to frequent. Look on their website for contact information and note any email addresses. Not all internships have to be in person; you can also intern remotely (from your own home). For example, you can get a writing internship by partnering with a website and writing for them. Teen Urban News is a good start!
For large companies like Nordstrom or Apple, it would be best to find smaller, more local businesses in the same industry. That’s not to say you can’t give the big name brands a try! Bear in mind, these companies get a high volume of emails daily, so yours might go unanswered. You can also look on job boards like Indeed or CareerBuilder for internship openings near you.
As a side note, it’d be in your best interest to create a professional email address, along the lines of “firstname.lastname@[whatevermail].com” so that they will take you and your internship request more seriously.
After that, start sending emails. Remember to include your resume as an attachment if you have one. Ask them if they would be interested in taking you on as an intern. You can even set up a meeting or informational interview with them if you feel comfortable doing so. If you don’t know how to write an email, here is a very basic outline you can follow and adjust for your own needs:
Dear Mr./Mrs. [Blah],
(Or a simple “Good morning/afternoon” if you do not know their name)
I am interested in an internship that would allow me to [whatever it is you want to do].
[Background paragraph about yourself, such as any clubs you’re in or any academic achievements you hold and how that will fit in with the company. You need to convince them you’re awesome for the role and that you will be a useful addition to their team.]
The best way to contact me is [email/phone/carrier pigeon]. Please expect a follow-up email next week about this position.
Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.
[Your contact info e.g. email, phone number]
After that, it’s all about the waiting game. If you say you’re going to follow up, make sure to do so in the event your email was seen and the recipient forgot to reply.
Remember: no matter what, every job is a two-way street. If you do not feel like the contract is mutually beneficial, don’t go through with it. Don’t agree to something you despise just for the sake of experience. Love yourself.
At the same time, don’t be afraid of challenge and and don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone. After all, that’s the only way we can grow.
Hopefully, by the time you get your degree, you will have plenty of experience and from there, find it easier to get a full-time job.
All the best.