While the school 2013 Fall semester is just starting and you (or your favorite college student) is trying to conquer the schedule, you should ALREADY be considering your Spring internship.
It might seem like a million months away but Spring is right around the corner. September is the perfect time to formulate a plan for that internship in the new year.
Because hiring managers are already considering their candidates for the Spring. They are not making the final decisions in the next few weeks but they're compiling information, weeding through candidates' applications and determining who would be a good fit.
Early bird gets the worm? In this case, yes.
Too often, I get email from students in December about a Spring semester internship. I will also get inquiries in May for Summer internships. Two this year, in fact. By that time, it's too late. The majority of the slots are already taken.
Planning ahead gives you plenty of lead time. Say you have a couple of good opportunities land in your lap by virtue of proper planning, making contacts and being aggressive. This is great. It gives you the chance to consider which opportunity is best for you.
Here's a Fall timeline to put you in the best position for your dream internship:
- September: create a list of dream companies and employers for whom you would love to intern. Think big but realistically. If you're not going to be living in Paris next year, don't apply for that internship at Louis Vuitton's French headquarters.
- October: research those companies and find who hires interns for the department that interests you. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google are your friends. Gather information on the hiring managers and create cover letters and material targeted towards each one.
- November: make sure your resume rocks and start sending them to hiring managers. Be clear about your goals, outline your strengths and what you hope to learn during the internship. Before Thanksgiving send a follow-up email to every single company you submitted an internship application.
- December 1st: send a nice email reminding the hiring manager of your commitment to a Spring internship. Reiterate your interest and be clear about what skills you can bring to the company and what you hope to learn. Offer your phone number and be clear that you are available to answer any questions.
This is not a guarantee of landing an internship but it illustrates the approach you take to various tasks. Don't bug the hiring manager because he or she is busy. DO be professionally persistent and available. You might not get the internship but if you follow these steps you will certainly make a solid impression that can help later in your career.
The Takeaway: Plan a season ahead if you're trying to land an internship.
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