By Chaviva Freedman
Since I started college, I’ve been very lucky in an area that most people struggle with – finding an internship. I’ve had the opportunity to intern for two magazines (ELLE Magazine and Blouin Artinfo), an Off-Broadway theater (The Theater Center), and a live celebrity web series for AOL, now Oath (BUILD Series).
I get questions all the time about how I got these internships (usually it’s being in the right place at the right time) and how I’ve been able to maintain connections with the companies. Here are some pieces of advice anyone in any major can use:
- Prep your resume and cover letter early. It seems kind of obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t know how to write a resume or cover letter. When I first stepped on campus in the fall of 2014, I made an appointment with the Career Center and learned what qualifies as a good resume and what constitutes a strong cover letter. By having these set so early on, I was able to look more professional, and prevent any scrambling to write these important documents when the job I wanted came up. It really helps if you have them ready for any moment.
- Be diverse in your activities. There are certain majors that lend themselves to classic, seemingly vital extracurriculars, like Bio majors working in labs or Poli Sci students working in a law firm. Although you might think they look good for grad school, they won’t make you stand out and shine when applying for an internship. Find an extracurricular that is a little out of your comfort zone. If you are more science-oriented, maybe join an art club. If you’re more artsy, maybe go on a Habitat for Humanity trip. Employers want to see diversity, not clones, when job applications come across their desks. I’m not saying don’t do the extracurriculars in your field and in which you will you excel – but “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” if you want to quote the great Kelly Clarkson, and spicing things up can only strengthen you and your CV.
- Google, google, google! I believe in this one so much. When I started out as a Journalism major, I knew that there wouldn’t be so many jobs available in my field through the Career Center. So I decided to look to the ultimate resource – Google. I realized that when I started Googling, I found myself with access to a vast amount of websites with listings of various jobs that I didn’t even know existed. I even discovered that NYU’s job board for my major was open to the public! If there is a certain hospital that you are interested in, Google to see if there are internships or fellowship positions available. Maybe there’s a law firm that does the exact work you want to pursue in the future – Google them and try to find an email to contact. Let’s just say that without Google, I wouldn’t have gotten the jobs I got throughout my college career.
- Use your connections. During the fall semester of my junior year, I went to one of my English professors after class to discuss trying to find an internship for the summer (yeah, I’m one of those people who likes to start early). He proceeded to send me an email from the Editorial Assistant at ELLE Magazine, looking for interns for the spring semester. That Sunday, I decided to just throw my name into the ring with hopes of getting the internship for the summer. It turned out that they wanted me, and by the end of the week, I not only interviewed for the magazine, but I received the internship. Long story short: you never know where your next internship can come from, and you never know who will help you get there. Just take the time to look around and ask.
- Keep up your connections once you have them. I think this is the one that is the most difficult to follow. Usually when an internship is over, we go to real-life and move on from the jobs we had over the summer. But keeping in touch with those connections is vital if you want to go into the field that you worked in or want to eventually work at the company you interned for. I periodically shoot an email to my former supervisors at ELLE and BUILD with random questions, and I try to have a meeting with them so that they remember me if there is a job opening up in the coming months. People are always willing to help if you give them a reason to remember you. It never hurts to do so and there’s always another door that you never dreamed of opening that they might know of.
No matter what area of work you decide to pursue, if you’re armed with these little tips, you’ll eventually find the internship of your dreams. Good luck!