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How to get an internship in 2020

The 2019-2020 global pandemic has had a lasting impact on people of all ages, all around the world. It has been uniquely jarring for students, as they have faced the abrupt halting of their last in-person classes, statewide “stay at home” ordinances, and the cancelation of, well, just about everything.

Those students who are 2020 graduates seeking internships as a start their post-grad careers, however, are in uncharted waters.

The 2020 Internship Outlook

The good news is that economic experts predict the global economy can quickly bounce back as the year progresses.

There’s even better news if you’re a 2020 grad considering internships. The strange circumstances driving decisions at many organizations may actually factor in as a positive for intern seekers.

Some companies will need to replace workers they laid off in response to the pandemic, while others will need to find new ways to trim costs to restart operations.

Interns may have a unique role to play as organizations regroup. As (most likely) unpaid workers, new grads won’t contribute much in the way of expenses. Equally important, interns represent the lifeforce of the next generation of workers. Companies can select interns who fit their vision of what the “new normal” will look like as the economy begins to recover.

5 Steps for Landing a Career-Launching Internship

As a prospective intern just embarking on an internship search, you will find that the process is quite similar to a job hunt. Networking, reliable resources, and online tools are at the heart of the search. Here are five tips for getting an internship.

1. Find great companies to join

Before you plow ahead and start applying for every internship that sounds vaguely interesting, take some time to brainstorm about what you hope to gain from being an intern. Do your research to find out more about prominent and lesser-known companies in your field.

Make a list of startups that have attracted great investors, or which companies are impacting your field through innovation. Taking a high-level look at potential companies can help you find opportunities most likely to help launch you toward your ultimate career goals.

2. Work your connections for warm introductions

No matter how well you performed academically, sometimes a job search is more about who you know than what you know. So, get to know the right people.

Nothing beats a warm intro. When you do make that all-important connection, connect in a warm, engaging way. Give them some insight into the “real” you. When you do, follow this simple structure:

  1. Start with a short and descriptive subject line
  2. Show them what you have in common
  3. Include a short summary about who you are
  4. Keep the tone casual and friendly
  5. Always include an ask

3. Follow companies on social media

Thanks to the magic of social media, it’s a snap to find just the right contact person at the companies you want to target. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, in particular, can be great resources. Many companies and recruiters share internship opportunities on their social media accounts before they even list them on their company website.

The old fashioned way still works, by the way. Ask your parents who they know who might know someone who knows someone at your dream company. And your favorite professors. And your neighbors. And your friends from back home. You get the picture.

4. Experiment with your outreach and be brave

Most people do not relish cold-calling. However, there are few methods more efficient than creating a list of companies where you’d love to work and simply asking them if they are looking for interns. Taking the initiative to apply or reach out even when an organization doesn’t have any specific listings posted online can help you stand out from the typical cover letter and resume emails.

5. Build out your portfolio

If you are hitting a wall trying to get in the door at one of your target companies, it may be time to invest into a side project. Nothing beats a portfolio showcasing your work or a side gig you’re passionate about. Here are a few simple things you might want to try:

  1. Start a blog on Medium
  2. Create a professional Instagram account
  3. Create a simple one-page website
  4. Create a public page on Notion to show off your work
  5. Create content or a project others can benefit from

What to Do Today

Take control of your internship search by becoming more knowledgeable about the companies that are making an impact in your field. Those who know more can do more.