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  • Writer's pictureMatt Shaw

The 5 Stages of Applying for Summer Internships

Updated: Apr 27, 2020

By: Julia Solimine

It’s already March, which means that soon the school year will be over and the student-filled campuses will desert themselves until the Fall. Although it’s referred to as summer break, majority of students don’t really have a ‘break’ for these four months. Many of us look for jobs throughout this time to increase our experience and build our resume. Student internships are a great option for summer jobs, as they build your experience, increase your network, motivate you, and teach you real, work-place skills you may not learn in the lecture hall. Applying for internships is nerve wrecking for most students, regardless of your GPA or previous experience. This is why I have compiled the five stages of applying for summer internships, as a way to prove to all the nervous applicants that they are not the only ones who feel this way.

#1: Denial: The whole “wow summer internship? Sounds like something only an adult would qualify for… oh wait I’m an adult” realization of the process. It is practically mandatory to take five minutes to accept that you will have to leave your food service or retail job you worked since high school and enter the corporate world. Don’t be shy, several companies love to hire students. We are quick learners who are tech-forward and multi-tasking gurus.  

#2: The Search: At this point, we accept our adult-status and begin to look for summer internships, which can be tricky as a first timer. Luckily at Carleton, we have an entire ‘My Success’ center on Carleton Central that has been created by career services for students looking for summer internships. As well, opportunities can be found posted on bulletin boards around campus, or online through a simple Google search. When searching for internships online make sure you include your major and your desired location of work in order to maximize the efficiency of your search results. For example, I would search “Communications Student Internship Ottawa Summer 2017”.

#3: The Application: This is the most difficult stage in my opinion. You must gather your confidence and send off that resume, hoping that your application will stand out from the others. This is a lengthy process, so allow yourself an abundance of time for this stage. Using the same resume and cover letter for every position will not make you stand out, but an application curated for the exact position applied for will. Carleton’s Career Services office provides appointment times in which you can sit down one-on-one with a career counsellor who can help you with this application process. Career counsellors provide constructive criticism to your cover letter and resume, and can even help you find greater internship opportunities.

#4: The Interview: The interview process is the most important part of applying for summer internships. It gives you the opportunity to put a face to your name, which can be both exciting and frightening. When it comes to interviews there is only one way to improve your performance and that is through practice. Meeting with a career consultant at Carleton’s Career Services department is a great option for this stage, as they will conduct mock interviews, provide useful tips and help you structure responses to common interview questions. Remember to dress to impress, arrive on time, and have basic background knowledge on the company.

#5: The First Day: Your application stood out and you aced the interview, now it’s time to start the actual job. Stepping into a professional workplace setting for the first time can be intimidating, but chances are you’ll get into the routine of it in no time. Make sure to be on time, look your best, and never pass up an opportunity to learn. Your internship will teach you useful skills that your schooling may not. Throughout its entirety, remain professional and personable since there is a possibility that this position could become permanent after graduation.  

Summer internships are a great way for students to build their experience and network in order to help prepare them for graduation. The process is not simple, it is tricky and time-consuming, and leaving it to the last minute is not a way to guarantee success. I recommend you take advantage of one of Carleton’s many resources throughout the process. Internships are competitive and difficult to get, so don’t get discouraged after being rejected once or twice. The best advice I can give to you regarding summer internships is to remain aware of your opportunities, be conscious of your resources, keep confident in yourself and do not lose hope in the process.

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