Fall semester is in full swing. This likely means you’ve settled into the academic year, and you’re starting to look ahead.
A crucial part of planning for the future? Getting a summer internship in your field.
Whether you’re studying math or tech, or another STEM subject, we encourage you to be proactive and apply for that dream position. Here are four strategies to land a summer internship without any experience:
1) Attend a career fair.
Most colleges offer career fairs on a regular basis. Meeting recruiters will give you a chance to practice your interviewing skills and explore all your options before you apply for a specific role.
Make a point of talking to a range of company reps, collecting their business cards, and following up in the next day or two. A short thank-you email (with your resume attached) can go a long way—it may even lead to the summer internship you’ve been looking for.
2) Visit your college career center.
Have you ever been to your college career center? You can do almost everything online nowadays, so it might not have crossed your mind. The truth, however, is that it’s a major resource.
Students can use their career center to search through a professional database of alumni in their field, for instance, or consult with a career counselor if they want to secure an internship but don’t know where to start. Many college career centers even offer peer mentor programs and practice interviews that can help applicants sharpen their skills.
3) Set up networking meetings.
While job fairs and similar events are highly beneficial, it never hurts to take charge of your internship search. Introduce yourself to a recruiter on LinkedIn or by email, share a few sentences detailing what you appreciate about their organization, and request to continue the discussion by phone, in writing, or over a quick cup of coffee.
Above all else, it’s important to be flexible and gracious when you request a networking meeting. Rather than asking the recruiter to talk in the next day or two, encourage them to pick a time in the next couple of weeks—and thank them regardless of how they respond. It’s also worth noting that brevity is key, so don’t plan on taking up too much of your contact’s time.
4) Polish your resume and customize your cover letter.
Most professional opportunities are competitive, and internships are no exception. This means you may need to apply to a few, or even dozens of positions to get the ball rolling on next summer’s plans.
One way to give yourself a leg up—to stand out in the pool of applicants—is to tailor your cover letter and resume to each position you apply for. You may want to send the same generic application materials to every company you’re interested in, but hear us out: Polishing your resume and customizing your cover letter to highlight your most relevant skills will show recruiters why you’re an ideal candidate for their internship.