How to land your dream internship

career advice internships

Internships help college students gain experience and try out different fields before graduation. You can think of internships as a 10-12 week job interview with a company. Many companies look to hire a certain percentage of their internship class back as full time employees. But not all internships are created equal, so use the following tips to help you navigate your next steps:

Tip #1: Choose the Right Internship

The right internship will be one that provides skills and experience that align with your long-term goals. If you are unsure of your long-term goals, an internship can also help you try out a field and figure out what you like (or don’t like). Sometimes figuring out what you don’t like can be as important as the reverse. An internship at a big company can be valuable, but working at a smaller company and gaining relevant skills can be just as valuable as a big-name company. Your first internship may not be exactly in the role you want in the future, and that's okay. Gaining work experience and transferable skills can still help you achieve your long term goal. I currently work as a molecular biologist, and my first internship was actually in a technology role. My technology role was at a pharmaceutical company, so I highlighted the relevant pharmaceutical experience when applying to full-time laboratory roles at Pharmaceutical company. 

Tip #2: Build your Resume 

Applying to internships many students find themselves at an infinite loop of needing experience to get hired, and not being able to get experience because they struggle to get hired. 

The hardest internship to land is your first one. Once you have work experience, it's easier to stand out from the pool of applicants. When you do not have previous internship experience, think of how your classwork, personal projects, volunteering, or work experience align with the requirements of the job.

Companies typically do not expect interns to come in with a huge array of skills, so if you can show passion and interest for the field, you can increase your chances of getting hired. A student I know earned a Technology Internship at Johnson & Johnson by showing an algorithm he made in his free time to predict fantasy football rankings. You can also highlight related projects from your coursework, or any volunteer experience.  Tailoring your resume to each specific job posting is also important. Many companies use an automated Applicant Tracking System to screen candidates, so be sure to include keywords from the job description in your resume. 

Tip #3: Network

Another important way to stand out is through networking. If your school hosts a career fair, or networking events, make sure to visit the booth and attend as many events as possible hosted by companies you're interested in. Even if they are not hiring for your specific area of interest, networking with individuals who work at the company may help earn an introduction that lands you a job. For smaller companies, contacting hiring managers on LinkedIn may help you stand out. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to data, because interviewers will often  search you ahead of time. Reaching out to school alumni on LinkedIn, or asking professors if they have any connections can help as well. Building your network is one of the most important ways to land internships.


academics study skills MCAT medical school admissions SAT expository writing college admissions English MD/PhD admissions GMAT GRE LSAT writing chemistry strategy physics math ACT biology graduate admissions language learning law school admissions test anxiety interview prep MBA admissions premed homework help AP exams creative writing MD academic advice career advice personal statements study schedules summer activities Common Application history philosophy test prep computer science organic chemistry secondary applications supplements economics PSAT admissions coaching grammar law statistics & probability psychology ESL SSAT covid-19 legal studies reading comprehension research 1L CARS logic games USMLE dental admissions mathematics Spanish calculus engineering parents Latin verbal reasoning DAT excel political science French Linguistics Tutoring Approaches academic integrity case coaching chinese DO MBA coursework PhD admissions Social Advocacy admissions advice biochemistry classics diversity statement genetics geometry kinematics medical school mental health mentorship quantitative reasoning skills time management AMCAS Anki IB exams ISEE MD/PhD programs algebra art history artificial intelligence astrophysics athletics business business skills careers data science internships letters of recommendation resume science social sciences software engineering study abroad tech industry trigonometry work and activities 2L 3L Academic Interest DMD EMT English literature FlexMed Fourier Series Greek Italian London MD vs PhD MMI Montessori Pythagorean Theorem Python STEM Sentence Correction Step 2 TMDSAS Zoom acids and bases algorithms amino acids analysis essay architecture argumentative writing brain teaser campus visits cantonese capacitors capital markets cell biology central limit theorem chemical engineering chess chromatography class participation climate change clinical experience cold emails community service constitutional law consulting cover letters curriculum dental school distance learning electricity and magnetism enrichment european history executive function finance first generation student fun facts functions gap year harmonics health policy history of medicine history of science hybrid vehicles induction information sessions institutional actions integrated reasoning intern international students investing investment banking lab reports logic mandarin chinese mba mechanical engineering medical physics meiosis mitosis music music theory neurology office hours operating systems pedagogy phrase structure rules plagiarism poetry pre-dental presentations proofs pseudocode quantum mechanics resistors resonance school selection simple linear regression sociology software stem cells stereochemistry study spots synthesis teaching technical interviews transfer typology units virtual interviews writing circles