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15 steps to getting an internship

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9. Less is more. Instead of a shotgun approach, select a few companies or people for whom you'd like to intern and take the time to do some in-depth research, says Oldman. Weave that information into your cover letter. Tailor your resume to the industry or organization, he says. You'll stand out because too many applicants send the same resume and cover letter to everyone.

It will also help you nail that interview, says Barnes.

"Research the business so that you know what they do and exactly what they're looking for," says Barnes.

10. Research career services. The secret to getting help at your campus career services office? Don't go in cold, says Epstein. Do some homework first.

"Make sure you know which person in the office is the most well-connected," he says.

Who is the person in the office who has been there the longest? Who knows about all of the potential employers and opportunities? That's the person you want to speak with, he says.

11. Plan ahead. In some career fields, like politics or law enforcement, not only is competition fierce, but you may have to pass a background check. Other times, organizations will only interview for interns at certain times of the year. To land the opportunity you want, "you need to plan well in advance," says Gordon.

Steps to landing a prime internship
Landing a good internship can mean a big difference in getting started in your career. Here are 15 steps that will help you identify and get the internship you want.
1. Start with the basics.
2. Let professors know.
3. Tap your parents.
4. Do community service.
5. Meet the speakers.
6. Check out career fairs.
7. Get business cards.
8. Write a letter.
9. Less is more.
10. Research career services.
11. Plan ahead.
12. Paying for part of your education.
13. Videotape mock interviews for review.
14. Set clear goals.
15. Get a campus job.

12. Paying for (at least) part of your education. If you pay at least 20 percent of your education costs, "it's a good sign" for employers, says Coplin. It shows that you're responsible and willing to work for what you want.

Other signals that you're intern or employee material: good grades, or balancing a job with a full load of classes.

13. Videotape mock interviews for review. At Utica College, professors giving a senior seminar on successful internships videotape mock interviews, which students review, to prepare them for the real thing.

A lot of colleges offer workshops, classes and resources for similar prep work, says Gordon. Check in with career services to learn what assistance they can provide. You can also get friends or professors to help you refine your interview technique. What you get from a little rehearsal: You'll be polished and poised, and you'll learn how to distill your skills and accomplishments into a short sound bite.

14. Set clear goals. Be prepared to answer this question: Why do you want to work here? The wrong answer: "I need the credits" or "because I have to do an internship to graduate." Yet that's exactly what some students say, says Rebovich.

So, consider the question ahead of time. Frame the answer in terms of the skills you have to offer and the skills or experience you hope to gain.

15. Get a campus job. "They are rehearsals for internships," says Coplin. And if you can show that you've moved up through promotions and salary increases, so much the better. One job that can really increase your job potential: resident adviser.

"A lot of companies look for that," he says. The reason: It shows that you're responsible, have good people skills and that a well-respected group selected you for the task, he says.

"It's the whole package," says Coplin.

For more information, see "Internship is a good career move."'s corrections policy -- Posted: Nov. 7, 2007
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