Tip – Finding an Internship

Internship Benefits
Individuals participate in internships for a wide variety of reasons. Internships can help you to:

  • Gain valuable work experience and learn new skills.
  • Explore different career options.
  • Learn more about you skills, values and special talents, as well as likes and dislikes in a work environment.
  • Network and learn from professionals in the field(s) you are considering.
  • Obtain valuable work references for future employment – maybe even get a permanent job offer!

Identify Your Priorities

Be sure to focus your search through self-analysis. Narrowing the scope of your search will focus your efforts as you research internship options and can assist you in breaking your search into manageable pieces. What do you want from the internship?

  • An opportunity to learn more about a particular field or industry?
  • Experience with a particular employer?
  • Work in a certain geographic region?
  • The chance to provide community service and/or public service?
  • Earning enough money to pay for tuition?

Identify Your Skills

What do you have to offer a prospective employer?

  • Skills: analytical, verbal, graphic, design, quantitative, artistic, interpersonal, linguistic, technological, etc.
  • Qualities: cheerful, diligent, reflective, energetic, compassionate, patient, etc.
  • Experiences: work experiences, extracurricular activities, travel, volunteer work, etc.

Set Your Timeline

Fall Semester

  • Think about your expectations and hopes for an internship.
  • Identify potential employers/organizations where you would like to work in the summer.
  • Be aware of competitive internships with FALL DEADLINES:
  • International internship searches should begin in the fall as well.
  • Attend Summer On-Campus Recruiting orientation sessions to source employers.

Spring Semester

  • Applications for Summer Orientation sessions and other business and technical related internships (such as banking, consulting, etc) start in January. (Keep in mind that most OCR positions go to juniors, as corporations recruiting on campus use the summer internship to groom and evaluate candidates for permanent positions after graduation. Summer recruiting represents only a very small portion of the wide range of internships available. Be sure to research companies for additional internship opportunities.)
  • “Liberal Arts” internship options, such as communications, law, research, politics, arts and culture, etc. generally start application process at the start of this semester (generally before spring break).
  • Universities continue to receive internship announcements throughout the year, so that it is even possible to find internships as late a May and June. Don’t give up looking even if it is later in the season!

Prepare Your Documents


  • Your resume in the keystone of your internship application. It is a one-page document that presents your educational background, work and volunteer experiences, extracurricular activities, and skills.

Cover Letter

  • This is a one-page business-style letter that accompanies (nearly) every resume you send to prospective employers. It serves as an introduction, telling the employer who you are and why you are sending a resume. Your letter enables you to highlight the special features of your education and experience that qualify you for a particular position or organization, as well as communicate why you are interested in a position with a specific employer and/or in a particular field. It also serves to demonstrate your writing skills. Once you send your materials, be sure to follow up with a phone call or email a week or two later to confirm the receipt of your materials. reiterate your interest in the position, and inquire about interview opportunities and/or the employer’s hiring timeline.


  • Some employers request transcripts (official or unofficial). For an unofficial transcript, visit your university account and cut and paste your unofficial transcript onto a new Word document. Be sure to add your name to each page, and do not alter anything on the document. For an official transcript, visit the Registrar’s Office at your University.

Writing Samples

  • Unless indicated otherwise, writing samples should be brief (a 2-5 page paper or project, a 2-5 page excerpt from a paper or project, a newspaper article, etc.) and related in theme and/or style to the internship opportunity.

List of References

  • On this document, include names, titles, contact information, and the nature of your relationship with people who know you well and can speak to your abilities, character, and interests. You only need to include these with your initial application if requested. Typically references are only checked of finalists for a position.

Finding Opportunities

Online Job Listings

  • This is one of the most common places to look for internships, but certainly not the only option. Online Career Services sponsored by your university and iNet (a consortium of peer schools that share internship listings) are excellent places to start your search.
  • Visit www.employmentpipeline.com to research industries and employer career sites for internships and permanent career opportunities.
  • On-Campus Recruiting (OCR) is also a great place to find internship opportunities, Employers routinely visit campus in February to recruit directly for summer positions. OCR is generally most heavily used by business-related or technical organizations.


  • Check at your university library for internship books. Internship books are excellent resources to identify specific positions and to learn “what’s out there”. (Select “Internships / Summer Jobs” in the “Subject/Category” box.)


  • Connecting with people you know or have contact with is one of the best methods for conducting any type of job search. Information about internship opportunities is often spread by word-of-mouth.
  • Utilize the large network you already have in place: family, friends, neighbors, professors, TAs, classmates, alumni, former employers, members of professional organizations, etc. Contact people in your network, let them know what you’re looking for, and seek their guidance and advice.
  • Remember that you’re not asking for an internship, but rather, for suggestions and ideas for connecting with employers and organizations. Be sure to let your contacts know that results of any suggestions you followed and thank them for their time.
  • Your university Career Services database of alumni mentors is an excellent source of contacts. Often many alumni have volunteered to talk with students about careers and job search techniques.


Directly contacting employers to inquire about summer opportunities is another method to find an internship. Here are some tips:

  • Identify organizations of interest – those you’ve heard about in the news or in classes, encountered in research, or learned about through experience with their products or services.
  • Conduct research on the employer through informational interviewing, reading employer literature and websites, and/or researching the employer in the news.
  • Think about the ways your education, skills, and abilities could match well with the needs of the employer.
  • Call the organization or review their website to determine the name of the person to whom to send your resume and cover letter. This person may be in the human resources department or in the functional area in which you want to work (for example, the marketing director).
  • Prepare a personalized cover letter and follow up with a phone call or email once the employer has received your materials.



  • Contact the people with whom you’ve networked to find out what they know about the organization for which you want to work, or the specific position you’ve seen posted.
  • Contact the company to find out more information about the position and job application procedure(s). If appropriate, call the organization for which you hope to work, or one that has listed a position (as long as it doesn’t say “no phone calls”) to find out more about the position. If you do not have a contact name, call Human Resources, or go directly to the department or unit that interests you. Prepare a thoughtful list of questions that you’d like to have answered. Be prepared to talk about yourself and your qualifications.


  • Finalize your resume and cover letter. Armed with a depth of understanding about the organization and the position, along with the name of the right person to write to, you will need to prepare and individualized cover letter for every position you apply for. You might also consider tailoring your resume to emphasize your skills and experiences that will speak most directly to the specific jobs for which you apply.


  • Figure out who is the best person to send your resume and cover letter to. If the contact name or recruiter is not stated on a job listing, generally you want to address your resume to the senior-most person who is in the position to make a hiring decision. Typically, this will be a department head, manager, etc., which you discover through the “identifying employers” phase of your search. Sometimes this will be the Human Resources Department, but often is not. Use the organization’s website or contact the organization to determine who should be the recipient of your letter.
  • Send out your cover letter and resume to those employers you’ve identified through networking, library research, and job listings. Often these applications can be sent via email unless otherwise noted. Many employers now request that application for both full-time jobs and internships apply via their websites. Is so, make sure to follow-their instructions.


  • Follow up your cover letter and resume with either a phone call or email one to two weeks after they’ve been received. Confirm that your materials arrived and express interest in the opportunity. As appropriate (i.e. the employer may not have the time to go into depth during your call or in an email), inquire about the position, the employer’s time frame, interview opportunities, etc.


BACK to www.EmploymentPipeline.com to begin company research.


resource for this article: Career Services, University of Pennsylvania

About Mary Marino

Mary Marino is the founder of EmploymentPipeline.com, a job search resource. EmploymentPipeline.com has launched its “Occupation Pipeline” widget, a unique tool which enables users to search employment opportunities by sourcing occupations and employers, rather than job titles. Connect with Mary at EmploymentPipeline.com or on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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