What’s the best way for my student to find a summer internship or job?

There are plenty of good reasons for your student to seek a summer job or internship. From making a little extra cash, to adding to her resume, working this summer can be of great benefit to your student. However, to reap the benefits, she needs to sow the seeds now. Encourage your student to:

Start early

Encourage your student to research options right away. The most competitive positions will have application deadlines months before they start in May or June. It takes time to apply, including gathering recommendations and polishing a resume.

You can guide your student by asking what she needs and wants from a summer work experience. If her bank account is low, she may want to look for jobs that pay well even if they don’t fit her career path. If money’s not an issue, an unpaid internship or internship for course credit with a reputable business in her field may be worthwhile. Some schools offer stipends to students accepting unpaid internships — your student should investigate and apply. Needless to say, a paid internship or position within her chosen career field would be the best of both worlds!

Meet with career services

The campus career center is an incredible resource. Encourage your student to set up an appointment and be prepared to make the most of her time with the career advisor. She should bring her current resume, a sample cover letter, and the application requirements for any openings she’s found already. She can ask the advisor:

• How can I improve my resume?
• Where can I look for more openings?
• What can I say in my cover letter to increase my chances of getting an interview?

Your student can return to career services as often as she needs. If she gets an interview, the career center may offer mock interviews to help her prepare. If her first batch of applications doesn’t produce an offer, the advisors can help her with the next step.

Talk to professors or academic advisors

If your student has developed a rapport with any of her professors, encourage her to meet with them to ask their advice. Professors often have contacts with other organizations that have hired students from the university, or personal contacts in their industry. Remind her to be respectful, but not shy. Her professors will be eager to help, especially if she demonstrates that she’s putting in personal effort.

Be courageous enough to ask

What if your student’s dream company doesn’t have any openings? She shouldn’t give up yet. If she is willing to make the effort to contact Human Resources and propose an internship, it may pay off. Encourage your student to devise a mutually beneficial plan: she gets a chance to learn at her dream company, they get inexpensive (or free) help for the summer.

Along with searching for openings, your student should ask everyone she can think of for leads. Does she know upperclassmen? Where have they interned, and would they be willing to put her in contact with someone from the company? Does the university have an alumni network? If so, she can contact alumni in her field, ask their advice, and see if they know of any opportunities or openings. Does her university hold job or internship fairs? She should attend, and ask recruiters all about their company. Personal contacts are a fantastic resource when looking for jobs.

Once your student has located job/internship possibilities, suggest that she make a chart listing all application requirements and deadlines. It may seem like a lot of work for a two or three month opportunity, but her effort now may pay off threefold: in salary, real world work experience, and professional connections and networking.