School is almost out for the summer… and no doubt it will feel pretty great to take a much needed break from projects and assignments. Summers are most definitely the perfect time to focus on yourself and re-evaluate who you are and where you’re heading.
Having the summer to catch up on some sleep, dive deep into an engrossing novel, hang out with friends, eat ice-cream, lay out in the grass (don’t forget the SPF!!) and stay up late is the stuff that memories are made of. Definitely plan to unwind in the precious months between last year and next: but also consider carving out some time to develop yourself professionally. Whether it’s a few days a week or even a month out of your summer break, working and exploring your options professionally can have a long-lasting imprint on your college aspirations and career choices.
Interning not only looks amazing on your resume as you apply to colleges (and may even be perfect fodder for your application essay,) but it will also help you to determine what you might enjoy doing for a career later in life, or guide you as you consider possible college majors and schools to attend.
Below are six simple steps to finding- and landing- that perfect summer internship.
1. Build A Resume. How do you apply for jobs when you’ve never had a job before?? First, relax. At your age, no one expects 3 years experience and spreadsheet proficiency. Start by reflecting on your life and write down any leadership positions you have held or teams you have been a part of. Ever babysat? That counts. Honor Roll in 9th grade, second semester? Check. Employers want to see that you are responsible, eager to learn, and reliable! Be creative and list the experience and traits you hold that demonstrate success. Then, polish it up on paper: click here for a step-by-step guide to creating a professional resume provided by collegeboard.org.
2. Talk To Your Guidance Counselor. You have the resume, but now what? Believe it or not, your school guidance counselor isn’t just waiting around for you to get into trouble or talk about what colleges to apply to when you’re a senior. They sincerely want to guide you. Weird, right? Make an appointment with your counselor and chat about possibilities this summer- your counselor will help you narrow down your interests, suggest possible internship options, and offer you some summer internship resources to get you started.
3. Network! Talk to Your parents, your parents’ friends, and your friends’ parents. Adults aren’t just good for rides to soccer practice. They are also invaluable when it comes to careers and making major life decisions. Start a conversation! This is called networking– establishing connections, fostering ideas, and building relationships. You never know who you might meet- and who might be able to point you in the right direction for your dream job.
4. Contact Businesses That Interest You And Submit Your Resume. Take matters into your own hands- you have Google and you know how to use it! Interested in computer programming? Contact the webmaster at a local marketing company, or even the Geek Squad at Best Buy. Want to be a teacher? Ask your local librarian about summer enrichment programs for elementary age kids and how you can help out. Remember: even if a specific internship doesn’t already exist doesn’t mean that it can’t be created just for you. Many businesses are eager to give back to the community and offer mentorship to local teenagers. Contact companies and see what they offer, or how might be interested in teaming up with you.
5. Interview With Enthusiasm. Someone took the bite and wants to meet with you… now what?! Deep breath. Clearly they are already interested and could use some extra help around the office. Now they just need to see if you are friendly, polite, and easy to work with- all the traits of an emotionally intelligent teen. Chances are the “interview” will just be an informal conversation to learn more about who you are and what your internship goals are. Meeting with a potential employer is a great way to learn more about the job involved, the pay (or lack-thereof; many internships exist solely for the educational experience and will not involve a stipend,) the hours and expectations. Always shake hands, make eye contact, sit up straight, ask questions, and importantly- smile! Enthusiasm equals interest, and demonstrated interest will take you very far.
6. Follow Up With A Thank You Note. A follow-up e-mail is always great, but nothing screams “I want this job” like that thick card-stock paper and a bit of ink. Your handwriting, thoughtfulness, and enthusiasm in the lazy digital age will push your likeability over the edge! Make sure to thank the person you met with for taking the time to talk, express your interest in the position and why you would be a good fit, and that you hope to hear from them soon. You’re a shoo in.
What tips do you have for landing that perfect summer internship? Let us know in the comments below!