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  • Helen Yudo

A Student's Guide to Internships

One of the many challenging tasks college students face is finding relevant work experience. Such work experience often comes in the form of internships. Internships are a period of work experience where students get to officially work for an organization. Whether it is figuring out which companies to apply to or trying to find an internship that you will get paid for, the internship acquisition process can be quite daunting. If you are actively looking for a summer internship, you may be well aware that companies have already posted internship opportunities and are on a hunt for students to fill them. Believe me when I say you would not be alone if you may be feeling rather nervous about the whole process. Nevertheless, this article is for you, as well as those who may just want to learn more about internships.

Although internships are not for everyone, there are a lot of benefits to completing them. One major benefit is it gives you employment experience. Having an internship, or multiple under your belt can substantially make you stand out to potential employers. The valuable experience and knowledge gained from an internship are also a huge benefit on your own part.

Internships also are a way for you to explore different career fields. Since the requirements for internship positions tend to be more relaxed than an entry-level position, there is typically more freedom in working in a position you have no prior experience in. For many people who want to discover new career paths outside of their chosen major or program, an internship can be a great opportunity to try another field you may be interested in.

Now that you know what an internship is and some of its benefits, you may be wondering when you can apply for one. Most internships occur during the summer months, but there are also internships during the winter and fall months. The best time to do an internship really depends on your academic schedule and what your overall goals are. Personally, I look for internships during the summer when I have the freest time. Some people may choose to take a semester off and do an internship during the fall and/or winter, and that’s totally fine as well.

In most cases, to apply for most internships, you will need a resume and probably a cover letter. However, aside from refining your resume and creating cover letters, the actual application process for an internship is relatively simple. There are free and simple-to-use job boards like Indeed, Workday, and even LinkedIn, where you can find and apply for different internships. If you have a specific company in mind, consider going directly to their website to scout available internship opportunities. McGill also offers great services for students who need help finding an internship. The McGill Career Planning Service (CaPs) is a great service that assists students in not only finding internships and job placements, but in writing CVs, cover letters, and overall career development skills. CaPs also hosts many virtual events that allow for networking and direct recruitment success.

One of the saddest things about the internship acquisition process is coming to terms with the possibility that you may not actually get one. Internship positions can be super competitive, especially for reputable companies. And sometimes, writing the best cover letter, resume, and even applying to hundreds of internship postings is not enough. So, if you don’t get an internship, try not to feel too bad. On the bright side, all the blood, sweat and tears shed throughout the process must have probably improved your knowledge of different industries, boosted your analytical skills, and if you got far enough, you may even be an interview expert! Consider using the time you planned for doing an internship to develop a new skill, or even start your own organization where you can get to hire your own interns ;)

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