How to land a summer internship for college students
WRITTEN BY: Elliot Crumpley
June 30, 2011
Taking full-course loads, employed in part-time jobs, and taking part in extracurricular activities give most college students little time to take on an internship during the academic year. This is one of the many reasons summer internships for college students are more practical, allowing them the time and space to focus on their internship. Also, with a number of college students returning home for summer break, they are allowed to pursue internships without financial obligations being a hindrance. For those who remain on their own, most students will be able to work a part-time job while simultaneously taking on a summer internship after their course work has concluded.
Benefits of summer internships for college students:
Why are summer internships preferable to Fall or Spring internships?
Summer internships for college students are a great way to get invaluable professional experience with your time-off, spend a summer in a new place, and to meet new people. The other reason why summer internships for college students are favorable to academic year internships is that you are free of school’s obligations, allowing you to focus on your internship and to have more day-to-day energy.
Andrew Maguire, founder and CEO of Intern Match, said that the most important characteristic of a successful intern is one who “asks the questions: how can I do more? How can I make a bigger contribution?” Being free of the stress of papers and exams allows you to focus your energy on your internship and be free of distractions.
Another reason why summer internships for college students are a great experience is the ability to travel and live in new locations. Maguire, before graduating from Columbia University, had two summer internships as a college student, one of which was with the largest oil company in Chile.
Interning in Chile “was more about language and culture than the operations of the business…but it was very rewarding for me to be in a country that was different,” Maguire recalled. “I would consistently have debates with the CFO…about things like the environmental impact of his company.” Although the experience proved Maguire’s theory that he did not envision himself with a career with an oil company, he maintains that it was an invaluable experience because it made him realize that he wanted to pursue other career paths while being engaged with a new culture. Summer internships for college students allow them a similar flexibility: to experience new cultures while defining yourself professionally.
Summer internships for college students allow them the opportunity to uproot themselves to new locations once freed from the local constraints of the academic year, and to immerse themselves in their company’s operations free from academic obligations. As a college student, you should not just ask what a summer internship could provide for you professionally, but also experientially.
Practical considerations of summer internships for college students:
The first concern to take into consideration is location: will you be sticking around your school, going back home, or seeking to branch out to a new location? The answer to this question will greatly determine what is available to you.
When discussing summer internships for college students, finances are always a central part of the conversation. If you cannot afford to be missing paychecks or don’t have enough school funds to hold you over, then you have two options: find a paid internship or find an unpaid internship that allows enough flexibility to take on a part-time job. See if you can do some on-campus work, talk to friends, family, professors, or whoever will be able to link you up with a position.
If you are looking to forge to a new destination, then the situation just got trickier – and more expensive. The cost of relocation can be overwhelming and can make summer internships for college students a logistically arduous.
When searching for summer internships for college students, one should always take cost of living into account. Planning an internship in a major city requires a lot of financial planning. Chicago, one of the top financial cities in the country, is also the cheapest out of the three largest US cities. Still, the average cost of rent as of January 2011 is $886, according to City Data. If you decide to share a multiple bedroom apartment and if you want your own room, you are still looking at roughly $700 every month. You could spend $50 on food per week, then another $75 on utilities per month. If you are living on the low-end in terms of cost of living and taking part in a three-month internship program, the total cost of summer internships for college students in Chicago will run about $3,000. Also note this does not include transportation and other various expenses. That would mean that if you are unsupported, $3,000 is the absolute minimum you would need to survive in Chicago for that period of time.
The sooner one realizes the practical considerations of taking on a summer internship the sooner they can prepare. You can take a summer to work to save up money for the following summer, so you can truly enjoy the experience and be able to focus stress-free. Also having general working experience can help you in landing that summer internship the following year.
“If you don’t have any work experience [in your field],” Maguire recommends, “say ‘look, I have worked before. I’m looking to take this desire to work in a professional world and to combine it with what I’ve learned from working and school and that’s where this internship comes into play.'”
Opportunities for summer internships for college students abound. Here are some excellent resources and opportunities to look into if you’re considering a summer internship:
www.summerinternships.com/ – This website allows you to search not only by location but also by field of interest. Recommended for those who need academic credit (provided by New York University) and can pay tuition in the region of $8,000. Housing, meals, transportation, and seminars are included.
www.internmatch.com – Small to mid-sized companies post their internship opportunities on the site, which currently has a strong focus on the Pacific Northwest region. It’s a great resource to find out about smaller companies that may not post on larger job-search engines.
www.craigslist.com – Although their jobs postings do not have an intern category, a lot of companies post their summer internships for college students on the site. You can also change the city you want to see postings in. Want to spend a summer in Seattle? Go to the Seattle page and poke around.