But good internships do not grow on trees. It takes research and hard work to secure one. Even then you will most likely be just another face in a crowd of ambitious young students applying for a spot. So how do you set yourself apart and land the internship of your dreams?
It sounds obvious, but you should know exactly what you want before you apply for any position. If, for instance, you are an English major who has an interest in another field, you need to decide how you want to proceed. If you do not have a passion for the field, it is very unlikely that you will get anything out of it. Sure, you'll get a line on a resume, but you probably won't learn anything that will help you in your future endeavors. You need to decide what you love to do and do it.
Next, you need to ask yourself what you expect from the firm you want to intern for. Would you like to intern for a small company or a large one? As you might expect, there are strengths and weaknesses to interning for either. Although interning at a large, prestigious company is more likely to stand out on a resume, it is also possible that you will not receive the individual attention that you would at a small firm, and, therefore, you might not learn as much. However, a small firm may not afford you the opportunity to interact with experts and professionals in your particular field of interest. You must decide what is more important to you and which firm is most likely to provide that for you.
There are also a couple of practical questions that you must answer. Firstly, do you need to get paid for your internship? While it would be nice if all internships properly compensated you for your time and energy, the simple fact is that many do not. If you decide that you cannot spend an entire summer without a paycheck, then your options will be somewhat limited. Therefore, this is something you must decide as soon as possible. You may also want to look into internships that offer college credits. If you are a few credits behind, an internship that offers credits may be just the thing you need to get back on track.
In the final analysis, securing the internship of your dreams is all about you. You must decide exactly what you want and go after it. While you are interviewing, remember that bosses are more than just suits, they are people too; and they respond to human beings. Don't be afraid to drop your guard a bit and show them that you are an interesting and a unique individual.