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In this day and age, just graduating college is no longer a guarantee you will find  a job in your career of choice.

Although I’m sure you hear this all the time from your parents, advisers and professors, finding an internship (or two or three) is vastly important to help you get a jump start on finding a job after graduation.

Internships aren’t going to fall into your lap. You’re going to have to put in a lot of work, time and effort to find an internship. It will be exhausting and frustrating at times, but you’ve got to keep your eyes on the prize.

Here’s some advice on what you can do to help in your internship search:

1. Get experience now
There are so many opportunities out there (both paid and unpaid) that you can participate in during the school year. Often times, you might be able to find an internship or job on campus that will help you add to your resume. Or maybe try a student organization. If you’re a journalism student, for example, you’ll definitely want to get involved with campus media. The point is, you’re not going to get an internship unless you’ve got a little bit of experience under your belt. Keep an open mind and try to find opportunities around you!

2. Start the hunt early
You’re probably going to want to have your search narrowed down by September or October, as some applications could be due by November or December (at the earliest). Be proactive. Nobody is going to hold your hand and find an internship for you. Use online resources and don’t forget to ask professors for any opportunities they know of. Also, if your school hosts a career fair, GO.

3. Edit your cover letter
A cover letter is not something that should be written at the last moment. You will want to have someone else look over it first for content and organization. It would be even better if you could have a professor look over it, since they know what employers in your field are looking for. Have another person check it over for grammar and spelling. Also, don’t forget to keep a backup of your cover letter and resume on a hard drive or online. You won’t want to lose these if something happens to you computer!

4. Reach out to your network
If you know anyone out in the field, now’s the time to reach out and ask them for advice. Ask them what they know about the places you’re applying to, what advice they have on getting hired and what skills you need to have. If they are able to pass along your resume to someone that makes hiring decisions, ask them to. You’re a lot more likely to be considered if you’ve already got someone rooting for you on the inside!

5. Reach for the stars
Even if you don’t think you have a good chance for a certain internship, it does not hurt to at least apply!  If you limit yourself to internships you consider “safe” or “sure bets,” you could be missing out on an internship you’d love. It never hurts to dream big!

 

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